Van der Poel disavows cyclocross as preparation for road season
It has not been the dream start of the season for Mathieu Van der Poel, who next Saturday will face Milan-San Remo looking to improve the third place achieved last year. His performance in Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, far from what we are used to, does not allow us to be optimistic about the Dutchman's chances in La Classicissima.
Cyclocross season once again takes its toll on Mathieu Van del Poel
If last year it was the back injury during the cyclocross season, this year the lack of rest after stretching the competition on the mud until the World Championship in Hoogerheide, where he won his 5th title of the modality, is behind the discreet start of the road season of Mathieu Van der Poel.
The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider started his 2023 road campaign racing in Strade Bianche. Only a timid counterattack when Pidcock had already made his way and an unsuccessful chase where he would even yield from the group that was playing for the rest of the places of honor led him to finish in 15th place.
Things didn't go much better in Tirreno-Adriatico, with a couple of stages that could have suited his characteristics. Although at the beginning of this race Van der Poel already warned that his sights were set on Flanders and that he would see throughout the week, the truth is that, as soon as the race tightened he was out of the leading positions of the group. Even so, with his class, he was able to leave us with two superb launches that were transformed into victories for his teammate Jasper Philipsen.
At the end of this race Mathieu Van der Poel was clear in his statements to the press: "If I had to plan the perfect winter, it would be one without cyclo-cross", then admitting that he hoped to be in better shape at this start of the season.
"Winning the World Championship title was unique but I had very little rest after the World Championship before I left for the team training camp in Spain for two weeks, not enough to be in the best shape."
Regarding his chances next Saturday in Milan-San Remo, Van der Poel is aware that in this week he can add little. "I don't think I can do much extra work this week. The main goal is to recover well from Tirreno-Adriatico. But if there is one race where you can win without having to be the best that's Milan-San Remo."
Mathieu Van der Poel is aware of what the cyclocross season means in terms of preparation, a discipline with constant races every week and at times with races on both days of the weekend and throughout the same. A demand that Tom Pidcock suffered last year, who this year resigned to the world championship, ending the season after Benidorm and that is also affecting Wout Van Aert, who throughout Tirreno-Adriatico was limited to work for the victory of Primoz Roglic, although leaving only a small sample of his class.
However, Van der Poel is clear: "I wouldn't have missed the World Championships in Hoogerheide for all the money in the world, but if I had to plan the perfect winter, it would be one without cyclocross".