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Video: Mathieu van der Poel Returns to World Cup Racing After Nearly Two Years Away

May 8, 2021
by Ed Spratt  

bigquotesMathieu van der Poel is back on the mountain bike after almost two years, preparing for the Olympics in two World Cup stages: Albstadt and Nove Mesto. Just before and after his amazing victory in the XCC short circuit on Friday, he talked about finally being able to race again on his beloved mountain bike. Alpecin - Fenix


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64 Comments
  • 73 0
 This dude is really a generational talent on any bike; road, cyclocross, mountain... it makes no difference, he crushes it.
  • 24 0
 What he did at the 2019 Amstel Gold race was super human.
  • 6 0
 @ReformedRoadie: Name doesn’t check out. Also: hoooooolllllllyyyyyyy s***. I’ve never seen a pull like that.
  • 19 35
flag trillot (May 8, 2021 at 7:49) (Below Threshold)
 Sad part is, with road racers, when you hear of super human feats, you quite often learn later is really was super human - and only possible due to "supplements"...
  • 7 12
flag donpinpon29 (May 8, 2021 at 8:01) (Below Threshold)
 @trillot: so true
  • 31 2
 @trillot: yeah, like Richie Rude ....
  • 9 1
 That's DOPE
  • 12 8
 @trillot: They're all on it, it's unlikely he has some wonder drug regiment that noone else has figured out. I'm not condoning it, but I don't think it's particularly a reason to demerit him. They all take loads of drugs and they all train like madmen, it comes down to genetics and the luck of who's in better form on the day.
  • 2 4
 @trillot: good thing he races XC clean.
  • 5 0
 @jeffsworks: And Roland Green, Ryder, ....
  • 18 0
 I don't think he was taking performance enhancing drugs in Koksijde, Belgium (2012); Louisville, Kentucky, USA (2013); Hoogerheide, Netherlands (2015); etc. We simply have to accept that we are seeing a living legend of cycling.
  • 10 0
 @dolores: agreed... he's got the talent, he inherited some phenomenal genes from his parents, he works his ass off, and he races all out like most riders don't anymore. His attack on stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico this year was a prefect example... went from 65km out and absolutely emptied himself to take the win with the reigning Tour de France champion chasing him down over the closing kms.
  • 3 0
 @cbtbackflow: Ryder never got caught. He was smart enough to microdose and dye hair. LOL
  • 2 1
 @dolores: While I'm not saying he was taking anything, do you really think that younger cyclists, especially those who have significant connections to the professional cycling community, would somehow be excluded from a performance-enhancing regimen? Again, I'm definitely not saying anything about MVDP specifically, but I just don't share your faith on this topic.
  • 5 1
 @Ginsu2000: it's not that they're excluded, it's that just like anything else the younger generation has very different attitudes towards doping... with the evolution of both training and doping, it's so much more complicated and there's so much more stigma associated with it if you get caught that many younger riders don't think it's worth it. Go back to the 70's, 80's, 90's and everyone was doing it so getting flagged wasn't a huge scarlet letter on your career whereas today even being associated with it on the periphery is a giant black mark... and today's riders aren't as hyperfocused on winning at all costs as they once were.
  • 1 2
 !remindme 5-8-2026 let's see how he's doing on EWS
  • 1 2
 @badbadleroybrown: You forgot that his grandfather was a multi time tdf winner.
  • 2 0
 @Mooseymtb: He wasn't but he was a top tier pro, just not that top tier.
  • 2 0
 @Mooseymtb: no one in his family ever won the Tour... his grandfather came in second three times and third five times, and his father won two stages at the Tour. I believe his grandfather won the Vuelta once back in the 60's as well. Like I said, some phenomenal genes... but he's put in the work to make the most of them.
  • 3 0
 @badbadleroybrown: that’s his maternal grandfather...
Combined with a father who was a pro as well.
They say the best way to become a champion athlete is the pick your parents wisely.
  • 1 0
 @badbadleroybrown: my mistake. I should Google before I write stupid shit. His nickname is literally "the eternal second" lol
  • 1 0
 Before he retires he’ll probably try DH and slopestyle and crush competitors as well ... true talent on the bike and superhuman work ethic
  • 2 0
 His victory at Strade Bianche this year was just ridiculous. The final attacks were incredible to watch
  • 1 0
 @riddenagenda: it really was, that final attack when he dropped Alaphilippe was insane.
  • 1 0
 @badbadleroybrown: over 1200 watts of power on the final attack (not sure on the duration), peaked at 1800 watts. superhuman numbers. left alaphalippe standing still.
  • 2 0
 @trillot: truth hurts it seems
  • 46 0
 He's looking lean and strong. Given the attack he did on lap two, then to still have something in the tank to repeat that 10min later, I'm excited to follow him and see what he can achieve. Only Catharine Pendrel had a more impressive performance on Friday - but MvdP can't do what she did in January, so two flat out attacks in 20 minutes will have to suffice!
  • 12 0
 I loved this post so much. This is the coolest thing I have ever seen a guy write on Pinkbike for a very long time. You are an awesome human. Thank you Smile
  • 5 0
 100% agree.
  • 2 0
 I might just be really dumb, but can someone let me know what she did in January? I don’t like missing out
  • 4 0
 I screamed when he attacked on lap two. The raw power he put down and just pulled away from Nino was insane.
  • 8 0
 @aks2017: had a baby
  • 4 1
 @aks2017: I believe she gave birth, something super human on its own - then to go rally in a World Cup VERY shortly after. What a beast!
  • 17 0
 Tough squeezing in MTB World Cup & Olympics in between CX Worlds, Spring Classics, and the Tour de France.
  • 11 0
 What a beast
  • 6 0
 I like his style and efforts on the road, but I love it, that he likes mountainbiking a little more.
  • 7 0
 @por200: He looks fast standing still on the mtb.
  • 9 3
 Might be stating the obvious, but I think his success in XCO has got a lot to do with how much bigger the talent pool is in UCI World Tour road teams. Same reason why Pidcock does so well. It'd be great to see Van Aert or Vos have a go. I doubt the leading XCO riders would feel the same about them joining though.
  • 4 0
 Vos did have a go - and as a Junior won a World Cup in Houffalize; and has won a couple of Sea Otter races, but was nothing exceptional as an Elite World Cup racer.....
She is still competitive on the road, but is no longer near the top CX racers, who've made a jump.
I don't think being good at CX is a guide to success on a MTB; Sven Nys, who is possibly the GOAT of CX, didn't do anything special in World Cup or Olympic XCO races.....They seem similar sports, but are quite different.

I just think MvdP & Pidcock are generational talents; and would be good on any type of 2 wheels.
  • 7 0
 What’s his XCO success have to do with other worldtour riders? I’m missing the link.

If you’re suggesting that most worldtour riders could race MTBs with great success, I think that’s very off. MVDP is one of the best riders in the world, and he still needs to fight hard for wins against Schurter and other top XC riders.
  • 4 0
 I would suggest the reverse - his success in the world tour has a lot to do with the stronger base fitness he built early in his career for mtb. Those extended threshold efforts are often neglected in favor of base miles and intervals. And he was genetically blessed with a fantastic sprint. So we get a rider who excels at staying at the front of brutally hard races with enough in the tank to win in a sprint. But as someone who has dabbled in both XC and road racing, the idea that road racing better prepares you for XC seems pretty daft. In fact, the training
  • 5 0
 While I don't really think that being good at road automatically makes you good at XCO, I think that it is pretty fair to say that the talent pool in road is vastly deeper than in MTB. I think it shows just with the salaries of road vs mtb racers. The UCI stipulated MINIMUM salary in the 3rd tier of road racing is higher than than the averages at the top of MTB (based on the Pinkbike poll data). The second tier (pro-continental) level of road racing provides a very legitimate salary and the many world tour level racers can genuinely retire off their cycling careers. There is way more incentive to a cyclist to go road vs mtb. Even CX loses people to road, Boom, Stybar, etc, etc. These are some of the best CX racers in the world who basically quite so that they could race road and feed their families.
  • 2 3
 @mnorris122: I agree - road fans seem to think you can just turn up and beat these riders - you can't! I doesn't help when road journalists make out that the road is were the best cyclists are. Sorry, but they're not.....MTB racers are just as talented, and far more skilled.
  • 1 0
 @TBaldwin90: I’m not arguing about the talent pool. In fact, MvP is the proof that the road talent is deeper. He moved from XC for a reason. His return strongly suggests it wasn’t passion.

I just don’t think the talent pool in road or training required to compete with it has anything significant to do with his success in XC. He is simply a generational talent with elite fitness, sprinting and bike handling skills that can play in any pool he wants.

Now that’s not to say his road career isn’t helping his MTB. That kind of money makes it a lot easier to setup a high performance training regimen. And I’m sure it’s a little easier to do what needs to be done when a 7 figure salary is on the line.
  • 2 0
 Matthieu has also raced mountainbikes from a very young age. And rides loads of CX. So obviously it's not a cross over for him to race MTB it's a return to his roots as a rider!
  • 2 1
 Yes and no. The talent pool is certainly deeper on the road, likely due to the compensation discrepancies as others have pointed out, but at the sharp end of the stick competing for wins MDVP found it much more difficult to find the top step of the podium at XCO than he ever did in CX or road.
  • 2 0
 Actually MVDP has had a tougher time succeeding in XCO (not short track) than any other discipline. It took him a couple of years before he won a world cup while he started smashing top world pros faster than that. Piddcock as well, won his first Elite road race besting generational bike talent Wout Van Aert. While I don't doubt he will make his way to wins in XCO elites, his success so far for MTB has been in the U23 category.
  • 1 0
 @gdumont Most no, some yes...
Annika Langvad did very well with Boels-Dolmans.
  • 5 0
 @Augustus-G: Agreed. To name a few:

Cadel Evans - kicked ass after switching to road. Jakob Fuglsang - kicked ass after switching to road. Ryder Hesjedal - kicked ass (cough, cough) after switching to road. Egan Bernal - kicked ass after switching to road. I suspect that if we looked at all the full-time mountain bikers who eventually switched to the pro road tour, we'd find their quantifiable success is far higher than the average world tour rider.
  • 2 0
 @Ginsu2000: Don’t forget Sagan!
  • 7 0
 As a mountain biker I selfishly want him to race the entire WC XC circuit plus the Olympics of course. Dude is just a blast to watch.
  • 2 0
 @extratalldirtrider If I had to pick one word to describe MvP's riding it would be "Explosive".
  • 5 1
 A lot of GOAT talk in cycling. But pretty sure he will go down as the true GOAT of cycling. Sagan was almost it, but VDP is.
  • 3 0
 Did you watch Wout van Aert in the Tour last year? Watching these two battle for the next decade is going to be so great!
  • 5 3
 Not wearing that RB helmet because he's too expensive, no doubt.
  • 3 0
 True story. Nino, too.
  • 1 0
 Or maybe because he has good values …
  • 1 0
 If the Olympics had happened in 2020, I'm not sure we'd see him racing mountain bikes at all any more.
  • 3 1
 wheres pidcock
  • 6 0
 Not in the top 40 for call up to short track but he will be there Sunday
  • 3 3
 Don't worry - Pidders is coming; MVDP gonna be looking over his shoulder 2mora...
  • 1 0
 He's back and more powerful than before
  • 1 1
 No TdF? Maybe he hasn't the right team for a grand tour.
  • 1 0
 He was planning on riding some of the TdF and then abandoning for the Olympics.







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