Update: Mathieu van der Poel to Miss World Champs Due to Back Pain

Aug 22, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
Mathieu Van Der Poel s return to World Cups will be a challenge after two years away.

Team Alpecin-Fenix announced today that Mathieu van der Poel's back pain will prevent him from racing World Championships at Val di Sole this week. He will instead focus on rehabilitation so that he can finish out his road season with the Paris Roubaix, the Benelux Tour, and other road races.

Original story below.

It feels like just the other day that Mathieu van der Poel seemed unstoppable, claiming the yellow jersey for six days at the Tour de France before leaving the Tour to race the Olympics. Now, the 26-year-old Dutch road, cyclocross, and cross country star had to cut short an altitude training camp due to back pain that has increasingly plagued him since the Albstadt World Cup and has put the rest of his race season in jeopardy.

Van der Poel is scheduled to race the cross country World Championships next week in Val di Sole before returning to road racing for the rest of the season, but Alpecin-Fenix team manager Christophe Roodhooft told Dutch news outlet Het Laatste Nieuws that things will have to turn around before van der Poel can seriously train again: "He has problems with his lower back. Riding at ease is possible but of course that's not training," he said. "That's why we decided to stop the training camp."

Van der Poel's crash in the Olympics isn't the root of the problem and his team says he has suffered from worsening back pain since the Albstadt World Cup, but landing on his back in the Olympics certainly didn't help and his condition has worsened since then. A painkiller injection to his back and adjustment of his cleat position so far haven't eased the pain.

Moreover, it seems the crash's effects weren't all physical. Dutch national mountain bike coach Gerben de Knegt said van der Poel wants to race World Champs partly for redemption after his Olympic bid didn't go as planned.

"Mathieu indicated that he would like to do it," the coach said. "I immediately felt that he thought he had something to put right," he continued, before explaining that van der Poel also needs the UCI points. Missing out could take away his eligibility for next year's short track races and would no doubt put a damper on his offseason.

The next couple of days will likely bring answers about the rest of his season. We wish him all the best in his recovery and hope to see him at the start line for Worlds next week.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
738 articles

  • 227 4
 I guess that means he's out of Rampage, too?
  • 66 2
 Well he doesn't quite have the full front flip on lock yet, as seen in Japan. So I would say just as well... I kid. Get well MVDP.
  • 4 20
flag PocoBoho (Aug 20, 2021 at 17:22) (Below Threshold)
 tOo mANIes dOrP to fAult
  • 13 1
 Solid comment. Laughed out loud. But do hope he gets better. He’s taken so much abuse. Hope he gets some redemption.
  • 5 2
 4 foot hucker taking on Rampage going to be sick.
  • 2 1
 literally LOL
  • 5 1
 Depends if they keep the ramps up for the finals...
  • 88 6
 Might be time to ditch the 115mm negative rise stem, that would hurt anyone's back.
  • 8 3
 And in conjunction with the lack of telescopic seatpost probably has ruined all his chance for olympic game...
  • 39 0
 Really undervalued just how important the lower back muscles are in stabilizing the core for good power delivery through the pedals... Hope he heals up, racing is better when he's in the mix.
  • 5 1
 When I got a single speed I couldn’t believe how quickly my lower back tired. Pros are putting infinitely more power through to their bikes than I am so I can imagine back issues are a real problem and take a while to heal.
  • 45 8
 Could you say his back pain is ramping up?
  • 17 1
 He’ll surely drop in standings
  • 5 52
flag ReeferSouthrland (Aug 20, 2021 at 19:39) (Below Threshold)
 It's funny seeing an elite rider flopping off a silly drop I could hit on a skateboard. The ramp thing ehhhy, from what I saw most riders were "hucking" that section as the landing was decent and wide open. I think he should have been training to drop that massive the whole time.
  • 14 1
 Surely this can't be the endo his career?
  • 2 1
 The ramp will be removed on race day, so his back should be fine then.
  • 8 1
 Maybe he should hire Yolanda as a coach, she can certainly navigate drops & win medals..
  • 1 0
 @sportstuff: *Jolanda
  • 36 4
 It's been funny reading the comments on his Olympic Friday Fail audition - let's be honest, he deserved it - but he has the potential to be one of the greats and he should be at the sharp end of bike racing. Get better soon MvdP, from the PB community. We promise to save ramp jokes for special occasions.
  • 26 1
 I've been seeing pics of this dude for a few months now and still have no clue what the top half of his face looks like.
  • 4 1
 He starred in several hair product commercials during the Tour de France, that would've been your chance.
  • 3 1
 He's also in the Zwift adverts without a helmet. I too wondered who this was for a long time.
  • 18 1
 Sux. Talented as they are, Guys like him put everything into their careers as racers only to have it all go south on one small miss or miss-step. My heart goes out to him. Be strong and heal quickly, we love watching you ride.
  • 15 0
 Lower back pain is no joke. It kills the power in your legs as well as your focus.
  • 12 0
 As silly as the fall might have been, it looked pretty gnarly and I definitely winced. Silly falls still do big damage.

I once fell off a curb (was watching a deer) and broke a finger. Was off the bike for 4 months...
  • 3 0
 I once did a wheelie off a curb, went over the back and rolled, then dislocated and fractured my ankle.

Pins, screws, plates and bars, and 2 years of physio later…so yes I agree, silly falls can still do big damage.
  • 2 0
 It's always the stupid, easy, silly crap that's bites the hardest.
  • 1 0
 @Canadmos: 100% silly moments cost the most, little pinky clipped a tree and dislocated and snapped… op plate screws and now back on bikes after 4weeks. Grip strength -40% as a result doh
  • 8 0
 "Oh look! A penny!"

Yeah, I know, but I still couldn't help myself.
  • 6 0
 Every XC racers worst nightmare. If it's really severe, lower back pain completely eliminates your ability to put down power.
  • 1 0
 I have raced xc, marathons and DH in my time, but sadly many of the road cyclists bring there attitude to mtb. Ride your bike, have fun and shred. The top dh riders have a blast doing what they love and the other disciplines could learn a thing or two....
  • 4 0
 Feel better man, lots more racing to do!
  • 4 0
 I know a thing or two about back pain. It sucks.
  • 2 2
 I was told by a doctor that the simple fact of thinking about Pidcock taking another gold causes backpain in some riders. The paper seems to be available in Pergamon's database.
  • 2 1
 How many of us clicked hoping they were going to reveal a new Magic bullet for fixing our back pain?
  • 3 1
 These maniacs should be wearing fullfaces with neckbraces.
  • 1 0
 its his riding style and probably bar to stem drop on the road. hard on the back.
  • 1 1
 More concerning than this setback is how early in his career he is. Calling it now, if he races another Olympics he’ll win it, but he’s gotta make it 4 years.
  • 4 0
 3 years
  • 2 1
 Looks like he could go up a side on his frame…lose the negative rise stem too, and/or he could do more yoga.
  • 6 8
 Poor guy, he was about to be in top for a while, confidence rocketed and then Pidcock came along. He has dominated cyclo-cross too. Going from the top to being dropped has to be incredibly hard. hopefully he gets through this tough patch, the niggles get better and he rests long enough to come back fully fit.
  • 9 0
 Didn't Piidcock win like 1 or two cx races last year, while MVDP dominated the rest?
  • 4 11
flag betsie (Aug 21, 2021 at 9:12) (Below Threshold)
 @sspiff: last year?
I am sure Peaty dominated Bruni in 2012.
It's 2021 that counts for 2021 results. Hard to swallow sometimes, but that's racing.

I won a nationals in vets in 2016. Couldn't beat an egg this year.
  • 3 0
 @betsie: last time I checked mvdp won the cross world's this year. Over wva, with piddock trailing somewhere in the background. Xc has been more of a mixed bag but none of those three have ridden a full calendar.
  • 4 1
 @betsie: you might want to watch some races... T Piddy was nowhere near MvDP's level. Cross was all about Van Aert and MvDP battling and XC was all Nino and MvDP. And the road isn't even close at this point. Settle down with the fanboi action.
  • 4 11
flag betsie (Aug 22, 2021 at 1:08) (Below Threshold)
Calm down and put the history book back on the shelf.
Now is about now/2021 and only 2021.
It's not about previous years.
Not a fan boi at all btw, just recognising someone in good form now (might not be the same next year, who knows).

So. Pidcock...
1. Started at the back, got to the front, had a mechanical.
2. Rode with a flat and nearly did took it.
3. Smoked them.
4. Olympic champion.

Best thing about pinkers is they love to dig up old stuff to devalue today's stuff that they don't like.

  • 4 5
 @betsie: Weird way to say you don't know what the f*ck you're talking about and you're just fanboi'ing on the hype from a handful of races this year but whatever...

Bonus dumbass points for assuming I don't like Pidcock. 2-2 in making yourself look stupid, well done.
  • 5 7
Such a childish comment and you can't even read.
I only quoted results from this year.
Try racing one day, you might understand.

Never said you don't like Pidcock, go learn English and come back once you have.
  • 3 0
 @betsie: To be fair, neither of you are speaking English.
  • 3 6
 @m1dg3t: pure Scottish here min, ya ken fit I mean like. Wink
  • 1 1
 @betsie: well then why are you mentioning being dominant in cyclocross when the most recent race was like 8 months ago?
  • 2 2
 @betsie: I agree, your comments are childish... and ignorant. Even looking at this year alone MvDP has been much more successful than Pidcock and its not even particularly close.

But since you don't know wtf you're talking about and your experience is limited to watching one Olympic race and apparently fanboi'ing at maximum level over it, you don't know that. Grow up.
  • 4 5
 @badbadleroybrown: you are some boy. Bet you are fun at a party.
  • 2 1
 @betsie: Tell me more about how you don't follow either rider but got fired up watching the Olympics.
  • 1 1
 @badbadleroybrown: come over for a ride and we can chat about cycling all day long.

Fired up... Pmsl, you crack me up. Calm yersel doon. You seem to get affie excited a little easily.
  • 3 0
 MVDP and Pidcock have raced CX against each other 42 times ever. MVDP has won 40 of them.
  • 1 0
 @FisherFreerider: yup, I said he has dominated Cx.
In XC (which this is about) they have limited time against each other.
Pidcock was on form in the first half of the year (well, was for the Olympics, but we don't know what his training is like after then for worlds).
Who will win worlds... we will find out soon enough.
  • 2 0
 @betsie: Well it won't be either of them winning worlds, because neither will be there.
  • 2 0
 We can all be hero's.......just for one day
  • 1 0
 Bowie or Motorhead?
  • 1 1
 A prime example of why you should ‘look before you leap’. Or at least pay attention in the course briefing and do your homework first.
  • 1 0
 Just learned that Twan van Gendt will make the shift to XC racing. I trust he'll do the jumps just fine.
  • 2 3
 Would he really be able to defend his title tho? One would imagine that a mountainbike world championship would include a drop or two!
  • 2 0
 What title ? Jordan Sarrou is the current world champion.
  • 1 0
 Look at that frickin saddle
  • 1 0
 What’s “Alpecin-Felix” - caffeinated shampoo for cats? Fenix..
  • 1 1
 NEWSFLASH!: Mathieu van der Poel changes name to "Hinder van der Poel", click HERE for more news.
  • 1 1
 should have just sent the drop like everybody else!
  • 1 0
 Pol him out
  • 1 0
 Godspeed mate!
  • 1 3
 δεν χωράνε πολλά καρπούζια στην ίδια μασχάλη
  • 8 11
 It's all the safety ramps fault.
  • 2 0
 Or he just powers through. Is this really news worthy? Or do we just like bringing up the ramp?
  • 11 0
 Actually, yeah, the ramp.
  • 2 2
 Guess he shoulda just sent it. Heal up!
  • 1 0
 @zephxiii: the ramp is sore too.....
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