Mathieu Van Der Poel Withdraws from the Tour de France to Begin Olympic Preparation

Jul 4, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  
Mathieu Van Der Poel lead Nino Schurter out in the last lap and stayed there.

Mathieu Van Der Poel has withdrawn from the Tour de France to begin his Olympic preparation after spending six days in the leader’s Yellow Jersey.

Van Der Poel took the lead of the biggest race in cycling on the second day and held it through the next week or racing. The Dutchman was expected to lose the lead in the time trial on Stage 5 but produced a huge performance to finish fifth on the day and retain the lead.

Van Der Poel relinquished the jersey yesterday in the first mountain stage where his relative bulk put him at a distinct disadvantage. The jersey is now being worn by Tadej Pogacar who put more than three minutes into his General Classification rivals on the Col de la Colombiere in the Alps.

Van Der Poel said in an interview this morning, “It has been an amazing week for me and the team, we’ve won two stages and we’ve had Yellow for six days. It was my first Grand Tour and I think we can be really proud of that.

“Unfortunately I will not start today, we decided with the team that it’s in my best interest to quit the race and focus on the Olympics now.

“Due to Corona it was impossible for me to do the whole Tour and then be at my top game at Tokyo. I guess I had one week and I had an amazing week so I’ll be back next year to go to Paris.”

Van Der Poel will now rest up and begin his Tokyo preparation. He will race the Olympic final on July 26 where he will be lining up against Tom Pidcock, Mathias Flueckiger, Nino Schurter and more in the hunt for the gold medal.

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Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 175 5
 What a mad lad. That move just made me a fan. Not because he chose MTB over road, but because he went there, showed them up and now says: Meh lets try something else.

Love it Big Grin
  • 16 1
  • 31 2
 He definately has the fire. Smart move making a strong appearance in the tour and then prioritizing the Olympics. I wouldn't say he is taking anything away from those who finish the tour tho. Just finishing the tour your first time out is more of a accolade than winning a few stages. 21 straight days of racing over 3400kms in the mountains in all weather is Olympic in itself.
  • 19 1
 @Regamaro: True, but people will always remember Olympic Gold vs. finishing the tour and ending up like 28th.
  • 15 82
flag JustAnotherRiderHere (Jul 4, 2021 at 8:11) (Below Threshold)
 "Showed them up"? Um, he did not win....not even close. Could not even finish if I were to bet....not that he is not amazing, but, seriously. Taking a lead and (potentially) blowing up? Not impressed (as compared to even the lantern rouge who at least will finish).
  • 32 3
 @JustAnotherRiderHere: He absolutely would be able to finish. If it were not for the olympics, he would have finished the tour.

Pulling out of the tour today was smart. Brutal, dangerous and cold. Last thing he needs is to get sick or crash. If the olympics are your goal, leaving the tour before today’s stage was very smart.
  • 45 4
 Showed them how it’s done, until they hit the high mountains.

Let’s not kid around though, MvDP is a real badass, but he’s not a contender fior the GC in a grand tour. That’s a completely different breed of cyclist.
  • 3 17
flag b1k35c13nt15t (Jul 4, 2021 at 10:15) (Below Threshold)
 @FrankS29: not likely.
  • 16 2
 @b1k35c13nt15t: unlikely he doesn’t finish the tour if the olympics were not on the horizon?

Where do you get that? He rode like a mad man knowing he was limiting his days and to hold the yellow jersey as long as he could.

If he was able to conserve energy and ride within himself he would have been fine. Not a GC contender, but well within himself to finish the TdF.
  • 1 0
 @MrDiamondDave: ^^Absolute^^
  • 5 7
 If he focussed on the TDF alone and gave up aspirations of podium performing across a range of disciplines he could podium at the TDF in the next couple of years. Probably won't win with Pogacar around and stays upright (luck does play a apart). He didn't want to do teh TDF this year as he was concentrating on the Olympics but sponsor pressure meant he had to start and go hard.
  • 2 2
 @devlincc: It’s rather unlikely that he could podium at a Grand Tour, at least any time soon. In the stage in which he finally lost the jersey he also lost more than ten minutes to the leader, that alone would put him out of contention, and there are a lot of hard mountain stages yet to come. Despite his many talents, vdP is not a stage racer, and if he would ever want to become one he would have quite some way to go.

On the other hand, it was certainly not “sponsor pressure” that got him into yellow in the first place,
  • 11 0
 He did not win the Yellow jersey to "show them how its done", he did it to honour his grand dad Raymond Poulidor who was 8 times at TdF podium but never had the chance to wear Yellow.
  • 2 2
 @hllclmbr: a completely different breed being a short ectomorph.
  • 7 2
 @FuzzyL: He lost 10 mins because he sat up. He knew he was going to lose and was going home.

He didn't want to race the TDF in teh first place. He was told by the team that he had to and being the thorough professional that he is he went and did his job.

You all have to remember teh dude is only 21/22. He isn't even close to being fully developed. Not until his late 20's will we see his full potential. Big Mig, Miguel Indurain was 6' 3" and 80+kg and he could smash them in the hills (granted probably chock full of extra blood but that's speculation given teh time frame). MVP has all teh prerequistes at his age to abe a future tour champion if he wanted to.
  • 2 1
 @devlincc: He is already three years older than last year’s and this year’s Tour de France winner. He’s not going to win a Grand Tour, not now, not ever.

Yes, he sat up. At that point he was already ten minutes down. At the end it was 20 minutes. And if not in that stage, there would have come a mountain stage where he would have lost ten minutes to the GC riders.

He is a really good allrounder, but he is not a stage racer.
  • 1 0
 @devlincc: Or maybe he's actually 26? Just sayin'
  • 4 2
 Amidst all the Mvdp adoration on Pinkbike, someone says "isn't it a bit disrespectful to enter this grand old race, go hard for a bit and then pull out to focus on something else?
Presuming that was his plan all along its a bit stink. The unsung finisher at place 79 achieves more I say.
  • 3 0
 @Madfella: It only stinks if he withdrew without any warning as soon as the yellow jersey was off his back.

He was honest and upfront, everyone knew before he ever lined up for the race that he was racing 12 stages, MAX.
  • 2 0
 @Ginsu2000: yeah. I was wrong. Just saw his age in another article. I thought he was younger.

@FuzzyL: He was always going home before the rest day. Pyschologically having that mindset makes a huge difference on whether you are willing to suffer and hang on to the jersey. His training would not have been focussed on the mountains. It would have been for 1.5 hours of power for teh Olympics.

They said the same about Cadel when he started out on his road career. Great one week stage racer but never a GT winner. Look what he managed to do. Granted he is built in the classic GT winner physiology.

I disagree with you on MVP potential of being a GT winner. but that's cool. We can have different opinions.
  • 1 1
 1st, let me state that MVdP is one of the greatest in the sport.

For a person so capable, it would be expected to start accumulating world titles, and not "just" wins, unless we wants to be an improved Cipollini.

Having the yellow in some weeks is a feast!
But withdraw middle race, because I want an Olympic medal is a good excuse, and I forsee an emotive and simply one of the Best Race in 2021 or even for a long time.

There are so many TOP athletes in XCO, that I predict that the race will be or very tacticle (boring until the attack), or emotive (everyone in full power mode).
Either case, I look forward to watch and record such Race.

MVdP wins are nice and huge, but it lacks Titles.
  • 1 0
 @gonpalco: Not sure I get your drift - what do you mean by saying that MvdP‘s career is lacking „titles“?

Besides a vast collection of national championship titles, he‘s a four time cyclocross world champion, UCI overall World Cup winner, and on the road he has won one day classics of the highest category, like Amstel Gold Race or the Tour of Flanders… of course, his kind of schedule doesn‘t really allow aiming for something like the mountain bike WC overall, but I think with his talents he‘s better off competing in different events.

The most prestigious title he could probably aim for would be the road world championships - but he would need a course that favors the classics riders over the sprinters. Or he could go for an Olympic gold medal…
  • 1 0
 @FuzzyL: sorry if I mislead anyone, but I was referring XCO Champion.

Yes, a Gold Medal would be very good.

He cannot win all, and what it seems is that he prefers wining isolated races, than sticking with a cycling disciple and rule it, as did Absolon, Nino in the last years.

Roadracing would be great, and even better, if he could win something, he could cut the BIAS of skinny riders, as did Induráin and Lance (yes...I know, don't beat the guy!) back then!

Jumping from disciple to disciple, can show how go he his, but personally, the "Greatones", win Championships, Tours, Vueltas, Giros
  • 61 1
 How did you train for the olympics?

I was doing training rides for a week with Pogacar in France. It was fun!
  • 2 1
 Next level training for sure
  • 22 0
 Plus they gave me a free jersey!
  • 24 0
 I don't usually follow CX or road very closely, but MVDP is one of those once in a generation kind of athletes that makes you take notice.
  • 19 2
 "relative bulk"
  • 15 0
 Yeah that made me grin too. He's as skinny as any pro rider, but simply a tall guy with too much muscle for the mountain stages.
  • 4 2
 MvDP and I are pretty close in height, and I’m a kilo lighter. I’ve got a bit more upper body because I’ve swim a lot, but I’m also 49.

All that said, he’d have to drop 5-7 kilos to be a TdF contender, and he’d have to do that without losing much power.
  • 2 0
 @jeroenk: look up another of your compatriots, Wout Poels…
  • 5 8
 @hllclmbr: that kilo of difference is lost after a big dump that's for sure
  • 2 1
 That is quite a bit of extra weight to carry up long extended climbs. I foresee Tom Pidcock doing very well in XCO over the coming years if that is his true weight.
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2 in)
Weight 75 kg (165 lb; 11 st 11 lb)

Tadej Pogačar
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9+1⁄2 in)[1]
Weight 66 kg (146 lb; 10 st 6 lb)[1]

Tom Pidcock
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)[1]
Weight 50 kg (110 lb)[2]
  • 3 0
(5 ft 9+1⁄2 in)[1]
As in:
  • 7 0

Let’s assume that everything is even. I weigh myself at the same time every morning, after I pee, but before breakfast. So when I say I’m 6’1” and weigh 159 pounds, it is what it is.

You take 2.2 pound shits? That seems out of control.
  • 1 4
 @jeroenk: Longer levers are an advantage because they can generate more leverage and power.
  • 4 5
 @hllclmbr: oh come on man, it was just a joke.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: During the shutdowns, I began weighing myself before dropping a deuce and after. Quite interesting. Lol.
  • 7 0

It’s the same lame joke that’s been said 1000 times, but has no basis in reality.
  • 2 2
 @in2falling: Pidcock is smaller than my girlfriend, lol
  • 3 2
 @hllclmbr: lighten up buddy, it was a joke.
  • 1 1
 @DirkMcClerkin: That 9+1/2 in ain’t referring to his pecker.
  • 1 1
 @hllclmbr: haha, ok, take it easy then
  • 3 0
 @in2falling: pidcock might even do well in stage races although time trials will be a potential problem.

Pogacar is relatively heavy for a climber but I believe it might be the key to his success. He jokes about his baby fat himself, but he is the only guy that kept training in half a hurricane last may. He seems to be completely unaffected by bad weather. Would have believed it if he said he was Scottish.
  • 2 0
 @in2falling: Pidcock's race weight hovers around 56-57kg according to most information. He does weigh 50-something kg, but there were a couple of hyperbolic statements floating around about him weighing 50kg which were taken too literally as meaning 50 on the nose.
  • 7 0
 Onto win Les Gets today Wink
  • 7 0
 Absolute beast.
  • 5 0
 Best ever!
  • 5 1
 I suppose surviving the first day of TdF was a big enough win
  • 2 0
 As a Dutchie, I want VdP to win the Olympics, but I also doubt he can beat the top guys in MTB after all the non-MTB riding he did prior to the Olympic race. Fingers crossed.
  • 2 2
 Question here is, has he hurt his chances at getting the gold in Shizuoka's very technical XCO course by racing in the TdF instead of racing World Cups?
  • 16 2
 No way, less wear from the bumps, insane cardiovascular workout, and super mental racing sharpness and savvy from being at the pointy end of a 200-man dogfight.
  • 3 0
  • 4 2
 I'm just waiting for the Road Gap jump! it's the best part of the Tour!
  • 11 13
 I think the UCI should penalize non injured riders for abandoning grand tours just because they don't think they'll win more stages or won't win GC. I'm sure I'll get flamed here but if you don't plan on finishing, don't enter. Love MvDP and his cycling heritage, I just think the rules need to change to discourage this behavior. It's disrespectful to the fans and to these legendary races.
  • 12 2
 He honoured the race by being there and giving a hell of a first week. Even when he had the yellow jersey he went to the breakaway to hold it for another day.

And how do you control that? If you would penalize riders who are not injured from DNF, who could prevent them from dropping gazillions of time in a mountain stage so they arrive outside the time limit?

This way everybody won. The team had massive exposure, so did the Tour (even more than normal since we are talking about their race in a MTB website) and the rider managed to get his goals for this specific race and prepare the biggest objective of the year (the one for which he changed the ideal preparation so that he could race TdF).
  • 2 0
 If you follow road cycling, it's not unusual. Sprinters quite often abandon a grand tour as they don't want to destroy the rest of their season by struggling over mountains for three weeks. The tour is normally the exception as winning in Paris has the prestige, but did you see mark Cavendish celebrating yesterday after surviving and making the time cut? Shows what it takes to just ride the bloody thing!
  • 1 0
 @rob-chambo: follow it closely. still think its disrespectful to the grand tours and have never liked it! you sign up, finish the race - unless you're physicall not able Smile kudos to Cav. suspect that Cobrelli finished in the GC group on the Alps while his sprinting rivals worked their asses off to make the cutoff. c'mon.
  • 1 0
 @FujiPT: not sure how you'd control it. you have a point that they'd just do a work around by slowing the f*ck down and missing the cutoff Wink
as a fan, i want to see the big names in the race, regardless of their results. props to Froome for not giving up even tho he's clearly not going well this year. that's all. sort of like in the NBA when the stars just rest so they don't get injured. wish I could just not try to sell stuff to my clients so I wouldn't get rejected! Wink
  • 1 1
 So now we know who the winner is going to be, will Tom or Mathias take second place?
  • 3 3
 Jack of all trades , master of some .
  • 6 1
 jack of all trades, master of most Wink

master of CX, XCC, XCO, road classics, single stages of stage races, time trial (5th in this field without specific training..)
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