Van der Poel would be considering leaving the Tour after the gravel stage to focus on the MTB Olympics

Road 01/12/23 18:50 Migue A.

Van der Poel considers the options offered by the calendar to arrive in top condition for the Paris Olympics. The Dutchman could leave the Tour early due to the proximity between the end of the Grande Boucle and the Olympic MTB event, as revealed by his coach. 

Van der Poel, the Tour and the MTB and road Olympics: the puzzle in an Olympic year

The 2024 calendar puts those cyclists with aspirations in mountain and road in a tight spot. The Olympics have saturated the cycling schedule and riders like Van der Poel must consider all options to design the path to Paris that predisposes them to achieve the best results. Although the Olympic summer is still somewhat far away, now is the time to plan the next season.

Van der Poel is finalizing preparations for the return to cyclocross, scheduled in three weeks at the Exact Cross in Mol. The mud run translates into thirteen races, which include major goals - the defense of the rainbow jersey, six World Cups and several confrontations with the other two beasts of the specialty-. However, cyclocross is a parenthesis in the mountain and road season, which is when the problems to fit both calendars begin.

The Dutchman faces the season knowing that he has the Olympic place guaranteed, thanks to the good work of Tom Schellekens in the U23 World Championship. After a year in which the Orange Beast competed twice in Glasgow - with an epic victory on the road and abandonment in the mountain -, the 2024 campaign plan could include the triple Tour, road Olympics and mountain Olympics.

Attending all three events seems like a savagery even for Van der Poel himself. The balance leans towards the Olympics; in particular, he wants to make up for the fall and subsequent injury he suffered in the mountain test in Tokyo and try to get the gold. A goal that could be combined -without too many problems- with the road Olympic event.

The Dutch MTB coach, Gerben de Knegt, looks favorably on this possibility -despite the fact that there are only five days difference between the two-: "The combination of mountain biking and road cycling at the Games is feasible," he comments in statements to Sporza. 

De Knegt adds that "the only question is whether mountain biking is the ideal preparation for the road race. After all, all bikes have two pedals and Mathieu can pedal very hard on them".

However, the Tour complicates Van der Poel's optimal arrival in Paris. The Grande Boucle closes on July 21, while the MTB Olympics are scheduled for July 29. "Finishing the Tour is not ideal considering his ambitions in mountain biking in Paris," De Knegt expressed.

Given the more than likely willingness of Van der Poel to participate in the Tour, an occasion in which he will be able to show off the rainbow in the most important competition of the year, the MTB coach offers an option to his star: say goodbye early to have enough days to prepare for the Games.

De Knegt stated that "for example, he could abandon right after the gravel stage, which is just before the first rest day. Then there are still three weeks until the Olympic MTB race".

The coach reflects that "Mathieu is aware that he will have to make decisions, but he is the least worried of all". 

It is still unknown what the final decision will be, although everything points to the Dutchman accepting to prematurely abandon the Tour. Van der Poel has several options on the table: withdrawal after the first week of racing, stretch a little more until completing the second or risk and reach the finish line.

Waiting to know the decision, Van der Poel is getting ready to return to the mud in the coming weeks and clear up the uncertainty of the Tour and the Olympics.



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¿Prefieres leer la versión en Español?

Van der Poel estaría pensando en abandonar el Tour tras la etapa de gravel para centrarse en los JJ. OO. de MTB


Préférez-vous lire la version en français?

Van der Poel envisagerait d'abandonner le Tour après l'étape de gravel pour se concentrer sur les JJ. OO. de MTB