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Van der Poel opts for road race at Olympics ahead of mountain bikes

By AFP

May 15, 2024 09:55 PM


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Dual world champion Mathieu van der Poel announced on Wednesday that he would not be competing in the mountain bike event at the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, prefering to focus on his bid to win gold in the road event instead.

The Dutchman is a six-time cyclo-cross champion, winning his most recent title in Tabor in the Czech Republic in February.

Since then, however, Van der Poel, 29, who also won the road racing world championship last August, has returned to the road winning both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

“It's the most logical choice,” said Van der Poel in a statement from his Alpecin team which also confirmed that he will race in the Tour de France.

“This year, the combination is too complicated. My first part of the season was quite long with first the cyclo-cross and then, after a short break, the classics campaign up to Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“If I wanted to concentrate entirely on mountain biking and be perfectly prepared, I'd have to start as early as next weekend in Nove Mesto, the Czech mountain bike World Cup stage.

"In consultation with my team, I opted instead for a longer rest period before starting preparation for the Tour de France and the Olympic road race without being pressed for time."

Van der Poel took part in his first Tour de France in 2021, winning the second stage and taking the yellow jersey which he wore for six days.

Winning the road race world championships in Glasgow in August has given him further reason to stick to the road for 2024.

“The fact that I'm currently wearing the rainbow jersey played an indirect role too," he admitted.

"It's a special year. As the world champion, I'd like to wear this jersey as much as possible.

"And I wouldn't want to miss the Tour de France either, which I consider to be the best possible preparation for the Olympics."

Grandson of French cyclist Raymond Poulidor, winner of the 1964 Vuelta a Espana and five-time runner-up on the Tour de France, Van der Poel took part in the mountain biking at the Tokyo Olympics but crashed out without a medal.

He added that he would  “maybe go all out” for the mountain biking gold at the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

“That's still a long way off, but I'll be in a different phase of my career by then,” said Van der Poel.


AFP


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