Mathieu Van Der Poel Aiming to Race Full Tour de France Before Olympic MTB Bid

Dec 14, 2020
by Ed Spratt  
Mathieu Van Der Poel lead Nino Schurter out in the last lap and stayed there.

In 2020 we missed Mathieu Van Der Poel take on the world's best at the XC World Cups but it looks like he will be back for 2021 with his sights still set on an Olympic gold medal.

As MVDP heads into the cyclocross season he has told the Dutch website Wielerflits his plans for the 2021 race season and it looks like he is going to be riding non-stop across there different disciplines. With his current schedule, he quite possibly could be the busiest rider in cycling.

MVDP told Wielerflits: "I am supposed to make the combination... I assume I will start in the Tour de France with the aim of reaching Paris. I do not intend to leave any earlier. But I realize that it is not an ideal combination."

The 2021 Tour De France is set to run from June 26 to July 18 and the rescheduled Olympic XC race in Tokyo is being held on July 27, this gives him just nine days to travel from France to Japan and recover for the biggest MTB race of the year.

As well as his aim to at least get to Paris in the Tour he also wants to ride at some of the XC World Cups as he hasn't raced XC since 2019. "I'm a bit scared of it. It took me a long time to get to the top of mountain biking and I mainly succeeded by riding a lot on that mountain bike and training specifically on it. With that entire calendar gone, I feel like I've lost a year. There is a preliminary schedule to ride two, three World Cups in 2021 to grab some points and limit the damage. But that is of course all subject to change.

“Mountain biking has become my favorite discipline, especially in terms of training. It is also the heaviest of the three. I never saw more hardship than on a mountain bike. Only in the last year, when I had made the connection with the top, did that suffering evolve into enjoyment. The euphoria of a World Cup victory is also greater. Perhaps precisely because it took me longer to reach the top."

MVDP is always a great rider to watch on the XC circuit so let's hope everything goes to plan next year and we see him back between the tape and providing a tough challenge for the other riders.


73 Comments

  • 71 0
 What a great rider! If he is able to remain world champion in cyclocross, to do a strong Tour de France and win an Olympic medal would just be an incredible achievement regardless of the sport. I hope that this bet will not turn into a triple failure... Like him or not, in our aseptic age it's nice to see a rider say ALL IN! Come on MVDP
  • 3 0
 He told that his focus on cx will be light this year because he already reached all his goals! It will be great though!
  • 10 0
 @Clem-mk: when you race the 20 biggest races a year and win 18 there's not really much else to do...
  • 5 8
 World Champion at cyclocross this year - in doubt given his annihilation by Pidcock at Gavre yesterday
  • 2 0
 Hi @steelarm: Mathieu van der Poel had a mild concussion after a fall into a drainage ditch at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne on October 21. He was supposed to return at Essen on December 22, but decided to race Antwerpen and Gavere last weekend, and finished first and second respectively. He is building up towards the World Championships on January 16, so I wouldn't rule it out just yet.
  • 56 1
 MVPD to add downhill, slopestyle, and enduro in 2022.
  • 6 5
 I'd be really curious to see how he would stack up in an enduro race... If it was a bit pedally I think he'd do really well. Same for Nino.
  • 1 9
flag entrecerros (Dec 14, 2020 at 10:32) (Below Threshold)
 Mtb XC courses will be paved next year so all those sprinters and flat trackers can grab a medal
  • 7 1
 @bonkmasterflex: I would love to see Nino race an enduro. Do you remember the video of him riding his XC bike downhill with Claudio chasing him from a few years back. The guy can ride a bike.

Edit: It looks like he did race an EWS in Finale Ligure back in 2013. He finished midpack, but well off the leaders' pace. I can't find any description of how it went though.
  • 2 1
 @bonkmasterflex: he wouldn't stand a chance in an Enduro, pedaling or not. Guys like Sam Hill who have focused on gravity disciplines for 20 years would demolish him. As good of a bike handler he is for a XC guy, he's not close to the Rude, Hills and Maes's of the world. Heard an interview a while back talking about Sam and how even on pedally sections, he's carrying speed while many of the other top guys are pedaling like maniacs, that is technique and not something that could be overcome by a high FTP or sprint...although I'd guess there are several top enduro guys that a higher overall wattage sprint than MvDP....particularly guys like Rude that don't seem to dominate due to outright fitness. He'd do reasonably well, he'd have to focus for several years & stay healthy.
  • 48 0
 Love this quote:

"“Mountain biking has become my favorite discipline, especially in terms of training. It is also the heaviest of the three. I never saw more hardship than on a mountain bike. Only in the last year, when I had made the connection with the top, did that suffering evolve into enjoyment. The euphoria of a World Cup victory is also greater. Perhaps precisely because it took me longer to reach the top."
  • 1 4
 yes but he has chosen not to race an MTB since August 2019 - between then and spring 2021 is a long time I predict that he will be well off the pace initially - my prediction
  • 8 0
 More hardship on a mountain bike than any other discipline,..... this coming from the beast that pulled a hundred man peloton over a hundred miles then executed a sprint victory in the last 100m at the Amstel gold. One of the most amazing feats I’ve ever seen.
  • 2 0
 @steelarm: Both the aerobic and cognitive structure of CX is much more akin to MTB than Road is to MTB. Doing a full CX season is only going to help VDP prep for next summer's MTB calendar...especially while he's racing CX and his MTB rivals are sitting on their road bikes at home.
  • 19 0
 Hope he wins them all.
  • 6 0
 ja dat hoop ik ook
  • 2 0
 @vhdh666: tres bien / sehr gut / belissimo!
  • 5 0
 If anyone could do that, it would MVDP.
  • 11 0
 Van der Poel for the green jersey.
  • 8 0
 I always root for that other mtb rider Big Grin
  • 5 0
 Cannot wait to watch more epic fights with Wout Van Aert! Oh man we got it good these days.
  • 3 0
 @nozes: and Sagan, 3 offroaders kicking roadies butts!
  • 2 0
 @finelytunedride: I was aiming at him Wink
  • 1 0
 repost
  • 6 0
 The Tour isn't the usual preparation for the Olympic MTB race - but him and his team must have worked out how it can work. Once his team were eligible for the Tour, then it was inevitable he'd go - just the family history alone is enough.
There will be plenty of challengers for gold; one hopes he doesn't leave a medal on the roads in France.
  • 6 0
 I'm going to guess his career goals at this point are: Stage wins all three grand tours, road world champs, xco mtb world champs, olympic gold in xco, and at least three more monuments (the only I'd maybe exclude would be Lombardia). Considering that three grand tours happen every year, I do not understand why he wouldn't focus on maybe Giro or Vuelta stage wins this year, and otherwise make XC olympic gold his top priority because he simple doesn't have as many options for it in the future. TDF just before olympics just seems like unnecessary risk. Maybe you could say his sponsors want TDF exposure, but surely olympic gold would suffice.
  • 2 1
 His team isn’t a WT team and don’t have automatic invites to all three GTs.
  • 1 0
 @Willemhc: It means they have performed well enough to get the invitation. They are not a World Tour team, thus no automatic invitation.

I believe his team is so narrow that they absolutely need him at the Tour. It's their biggest event of the year, and they will put everything towards making a good showing there.
Also, as the Olympics are raced as national teams and it has no jersey they have little to gain by giving him free rein to prepare.
MVdP will have chances at the tour again, his team might not. They will not let this one go, and he seems to be doing what the team asks.
  • 1 0
 @Sylesej: His team has been build around him, so yes they need him to win stages and maybe a classification like green jersey or combativity.

They also have a few strong riders that could get stage wins. I'm thinking Petr Vakoc for example.
  • 1 0
 @Sylesej: Yeah I realize they're not a WT team, but my point was that because they're at the top of the Europe Tour rankings, they'll also get invites to the other grand tours this year as well. And I agree that he will be in Dutch gear for the olympics, but I figure the press he would get globally and back in Europe after the olympics (if he wins) would provide nice opportunity for exposure for his sponsors.
  • 5 0
 The Olympic course in Shizuoka would have suited MVDP well (and Nino-san, tbh). The climbs are steep but short and the tech will reward the most skilled riders. It's quite a demanding track physically and mentally.

I'm sure the competition will be licking their chops as soon as they hear Van Der Poel is going to ride with roadies for a month and only have a week and a half to recover. It would have been better had he chosen to ride the Giro instead and just race the TdF in 2022.
  • 5 0
 Last time a rider tried doing both, it didn't turn out so well. Jean-Christophe Péraud took silver medal in 2008 while he finished a distant 29th in 2012 a few days after completing the TdF. Physical requirement from XCO and road cycling are quite different. MvDP is a beast but unless he pulls out of the TdF halfway trough the race, I doubt he will perform to his best at the Olympics. I wish for him that he doesn’t have so much road cycling obligations so that he could focus more on MTB and CX.
  • 2 0
 Less we forget that in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Peter Sagan went from winning to the green jersey at the Tour de France to being in the top three lead group by the second lap (before puncturing) of the Men's XCO...with about a three weeks recovery between leaving Paris and being in Rio.

Albeit Sagan had near a month to recover, that wasn't enough time to do much MTB specific training, and he ended up alright.
  • 3 0
 It's so exciting to watch him in Classics and in XC. I'm not so sure about the TDF tho. So is he going to go for stage hunting? The green jersey? There is now way he takes it. Pure and pure-ish sprinters like Ackermann, Benett, Demare, Gaviria etc. have way better chance than him.
  • 1 2
 He will obliterate them because he’ll win so many stages with a climb that shells those chumps. WVA is his only rival for green.
  • 2 0
 @jclnv: He's not going to obliterate them in flat bunch sprint stages (For TDF 2021, stages 3, 4, 6, 12, 13 etc. and Paris.). In stages ending with punchy climbs he has even more puncheur rivals like Alaphilippe who are lighter than him.
  • 1 0
 @agul29: We’ll see I guess.
  • 3 0
 There's other riders ? LOL.

I don't see him winning the Tour by a long way... but i'll be shocked if he doesn't pick up a stage or two along the way. He'll be closely marked like Sagan often is, but he'll get the chances.
  • 3 0
 There's other strong riders, for sure, but Van Der Poel has proven a couple of times that he can hang with the best on a road bike. And he's one of the strongest sprinters of all cycling disciplins.
  • 4 0
 He's definitely not going for yellow. Green, maybe. But my bet is that his primaries goals are the stages wins you mention for sponsor visibility
  • 2 0
 “Mountain biking has become my favorite discipline, especially in terms of training. It is also the heaviest of the three. I never saw more hardship than on a mountain bike. Only in the last year, when I had made the connection with the top, did that suffering evolve into enjoyment. The euphoria of a World Cup victory is also greater. Perhaps precisely because it took me longer to reach the top."

I'd be interested in if MVDP would ride for an hour record....

"The Hour record demands a total effort, permanent and intense, one that's not possible to compare to any other. I will never try it again."
Eddy Merckx
  • 1 0
 He's not a ITT specialist, so he would have to commit several months of preparation for that challenge....something he's probably not willing to do because it would disrupt his normal race preparation/schedule.
  • 1 0
 This could actually work out well. This year with the weird road schedule we ended up with World Championships (1 day race) right on the tail end of the Tour de France (21 day race). The guys who were in great form for the TdF were in the final group of Worlds (top6: Alaphilippe, WVA, Hirschi, Kwiatkowski, Fuglsang, Roglic).
  • 1 0
 That's a risky move; 21 stages of hard racing with little recovery as prep for a single day all in race that happens only every 4 years. That is if he doesn't get injured or involved in a piled up.

But hey, maybe you need to risk it all to win it all.
  • 2 0
 The pile-up risk is the biggest, I'd say. For a well trained athlete only interested in stage wins and the experience, a grand tour actually is not that hard. On flatter stages, they spend most of the time in the pack, well shielded, often freewheeling. The hilly- and mountain stages are hard, but riders that don't go for the overall, just ride at a pace that gets them to the finish before the time limit. Again, if you have world class fitness and not a 80kg plus sprinter - not that hard. VDP showed in races like the Tour of Lombardy or Amstel Gold, which have the altitude meters of Alpine tour stages, that he can be competitive.
  • 1 0
 @jeroenk: Would someone like MVDP get put on the front to 'pull' though, or chase down breaks? In which case he might be safe from mid-pack wheel touches, but would be taking on more work and not freewheeling as much.
  • 1 0
 If he gets injured, I think he would seriously consider pulling out of the Tour and recouping for Tokyo. There would be no sense in continuing at the Tour if he was too injured to go for stages and just limping along.
  • 2 0
 @twozerosix: His team has been mainly build around him and although Petr Vakoc is a good climber they don't have a GC focused rider per se. He may be asked to give a hand to Sacha Modolo for the bunch sprint, that is only if himself do not have a free card to go for it.

Si no, he will not be asked to ride as a domestique.
  • 2 0
 @twozerosix: Like @opignonlibre said, no, he will not be riding in such a role. There's these same 4-5 guys that work on the front all day usually, to give their leader a chance in the final. In some stages, he'll be the leader. Maybe in other stages, he'll support Sacha Modolo or Tim Merlier in a bunch sprint, but that's like only a 10k effort after staying in the wheels all day. That's sharpening the fitness knive for these guys.

Chances are there will be flat, windy stages in the first week though. If that materializes, VDP will be going for a win and it'll be an almost mano a mano slugfest in echelon riding. That's quite hard for everyone in the race.
  • 1 0
 @jeroenk: Thanks, I didn't know his relative importance to the team.
  • 1 0
 My guess is that he will stay in the tour until he feels that it's risking his olympic race. If it does, he will quit. The TDF is brutal on the riders, they lose muscle mass and take weeks to recover. Amazing rider to even consider riding both. A goat in the making.
  • 1 0
 To be honest, with a few days rest having come off the back of the TDF he will be at his strongest. Jetlag will be his biggest issue I think, overall I think he will be in far better shape than the competition. The TDF is easily one of the most intense races in cycling, riders always finish stronger than when they go in.
  • 1 0
 Good news for Nino. The lack of specificity will at least give Nino a chance. Unless of course Piddock is allowed to do race what he wants by Ineos, in which case I can see him being hard to beat.
  • 1 3
 Agree Pidcock's recent foray into MTBing and the fact he was lapping in the U 23 race faster than the elites means he is a better contender for Olympic medals than MVDP who will be totally wrecked after completing his first Grand Tour
  • 2 1
 I just really, truly hope that MVDP is for real. He is an amazing athlete and a joy to watch but Ive already been tricked by this level of greatness before. Let's hope this is not a repeat of LA but the real thing.
  • 5 0
 No one can be certain, but he gets my benefit of the doubt with a lot of extra padding. I did some amateur CX races when he was like 15 or 16 that he raced in his own category. He allready had the name of being quite unbeatable by everyone of his own age and most up to 2-3 yrs older too. Also it's the combined genes of a great spring classics rider (his father) and on his mothers' side Poulidor as a grandfather. I suspect the UCI should have prevented his conception if they wanted fair racing years later. Also, his mental and bike handling skills are second to none, which cannot be the result of doping. He is a complete package and the fact that he wins lots surprises no one. Just enjoy it until proven otherwise. Cycling has enough cynism.
  • 3 0
 what a machine - hope he will be able to make it happen!
  • 1 0
 What an amazing athlete! He will be a very long shot to get a medal at the Olympics if he really does finish the Tour De France just 9 days before.
  • 1 0
 Using the Tour (while being a podium threat) as a training camp for the olympics ( and being a podium threat) is a pretty hard flex.
  • 1 0
 Would this be his first TdF? And people expect him to win stages or even podium in his first go? And all this as a ‘warm-up’ for a gold medal?

The kid is good but this is somewhat unreasonable. Takes many pro circuit roadies several attempts to even finish a Grand Tour - too much can happen in 3 weeks.
  • 3 0
 "I never saw more hardship than when on a mountain bike"
Join the club!
  • 2 0
 Gauntlet thrown down to Sagan?
  • 1 4
 Who?
  • 2 0
 Thats just showing off. Ha!!
  • 1 0
 Finally, a reason to watch the Tour. Joking. Used to watch all the time.
  • 1 0
 Dude is a beast. Inspiring!
  • 1 0
 He should fit right in with those goofy ass looking tall white socks!
  • 1 0
 weapon
  • 1 0
 Go to sloppestyle Van!!!
  • 1 0
 Effing awesome!
  • 1 0
 YOLO!!!

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