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Mathieu Van Der Poel Will Not Compete in MTB Race at the Paris Olympics

May 15, 2024 at 9:04
by Sarah Moore  

With the Paris Olympics this summer, putting together Mathieu Van Der Poel's summer program was always going to be a bit of a puzzle. Now, after seeing the road course in Paris, which he says suits him, the decision has been made to skip the mountain bike race altogether.

The Dutch racer said in a statement released by his Alpecin-Deceuninck team that putting his full focus on the combination of the Tour de France and the road race is “the most logical” choice. He considers the Tour de France the "best possible preparation for the Games."

bigquotesThis is the most logical choice to be able to prepare for my goals without time pressure. The combination with MTB was too difficult. It ensures that I have a little more time and thus can prepare longer and better.Mathieu Van Der Poel

Van der Poel has had an incredible season on the road this spring, winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix classics and has decided that his best chances to win an Olympic gold medal will be in the road race.

bigquotesLet’s say I chose the most logical thing. My first half of the season was quite long. First the cyclocross season. After a short break, I resumed training in function of the spring season and I continued that campaign up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Now, if I want to focus fully on mountain biking and be perfectly prepared, I have to start as early as next weekend in Nove Mesto, the Czech manche of the MTB World Cup.

So, in consultation with the team, I opted for a slightly longer rest period, after which I can build up to the Tour de France and the Olympic road race without time pressure.

The fact that I am currently riding in the rainbow jersey has indirectly played a bit of a role. It’s a special year. As world champion I like to ride in that jersey as much as possible. So I also prefer not to miss the Tour de France. And that proved to be a good preparation last year, then towards the World Championships.
Mathieu Van Der Poel

Currently, the Netherlands is ranked 29th in the nation standings which means that there might not even be a spot for a Dutch male rider even if Van Der Poel went on a points-hunting spree before the qualification period ends on May 26th since only nations ranked 1-19 qualify an athlete to go to Paris. We could still see Van Der Poel on the start line in an Olympic mountain bike race again and look for redemption after disaster in Tokyo 2021, but we'll have to wait for LA 2028 when the Dutch rider will be 33 years old.

bigquotesWho knows what’s still possible in 2028 in Los Angeles? That’s still a long time away, but I’ll be in a different phase of my career then,” he said. “Maybe then I can put everything on that mountain biking. This year the combination is just too difficult.Mathieu Van Der Poel

In the meantime, Van Der Poel will be assisting teammate Jasper Philipsen in his hunt for stage wins and a possible green jersey at the Tour de France and will also be on the hunt for a stage win himself, before turning his focus to the Olympic road race.

Author Info:
sarahmoore avatar

Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,435 articles

  • 169 2
 I will not make a joke about drops. I will not make a joke about drops. I will not make a joke about drops... Too bad. He has been teasing us about competing all this time. Kinda pulled the ramp out from under us on this one.
  • 25 35
flag ShredlyMcShredface (May 15, 2024 at 10:33) (Below Threshold)
 If the plank was there he’d have Olympic gold for sure, plus more wins not dealing with a bad back. Who puts a plank in for everything but the actual race? Stupid race organizers!
  • 12 0
 Subtle, yet leaves a smile.
  • 4 2
 Drop it you!
  • 3 0
 Oh... This is what I came to the comments to see. Thank you!
  • 10 1
 Van der Poel drops summer race schedule, ramps up training?
Van der Poel, practice ramp both absent from Olympic MTB race?
Something about beating up Australian teenagers?
  • 2 0
 *golf clap*
  • 4 0
 @ShredlyMcShredface: Who forgets the ramp won't be there after being told repeatedly by your coaches right before the race?
  • 7 0
 Ramp, er, mic drop
  • 1 0
 @Drew-O: He didn't beat up anyone.
Stick with the facts.
  • 135 2
 I would like to take this time to announce I too will not be riding in the Paris MTB race.
  • 36 0
 Like someone somewhere said, we should 100% have an average Joe athlete in every single competition so we all get to physically see the difference in performance. I volunteer as tribute for the xc mtb race.
  • 1 0
 @11six: And instead of water and gel packs there will be beer
  • 32 4
 womp womp. Too bad. The olympics are for the best and he is absolutely one of the best.
  • 10 3
 Given the course will likely be tailor-made for PFP and her giant engine, I think Mathieu would be unstoppable on it as well.
  • 10 1
 @sspiff: Pidcock would probably disagree
  • 4 0
 @sspiff: The course is the same as all the games courses, it's even designed by the same guy who designed London and Tokyo. Short climbs, jumble of rocks for descents.

There are videos of the test event from last year.
  • 7 0
 @dougfs: Tokyo was lightyears better than London with technicality and natural terrain. Paris looks better than London but definitely trends more towards buffed out. I think that is largely due to the terrain available. Tokyo has mountains/hilly terrain close by that they utilized. London and Paris are pancake flat and have to work with what they have....in the case of Paris that is a huge old landfill.
  • 2 0
 @dougfs: the course is (on) trash
  • 21 6
 No drops with missing ramps on the road coarse I imagine.
  • 2 3
 I think he'll still be nervously looking out for one.
  • 8 32
flag WhateverBikes (May 15, 2024 at 9:48) (Below Threshold)
 Oh you have such a vivid imagination, coming up with a joke like that! Nobody has thought about making a joke about that missing ramp, ever! You're so clever.
  • 8 20
flag Dtower92 (May 15, 2024 at 10:22) (Below Threshold)
 @WhateverBikes: It will forever be hilarious that MVdP couldn't ride a feature that my 9 year old could ride. He really should stick to road bikes.
  • 14 8
 @Dtower92: He is one of the worlds best bike handlers and you don’t think he could have rode that drop if he knew it was mandatory?
  • 6 3
 @WhateverBikes: If only he'd had a BMX background then he'd have made it look like a Session...
  • 4 1
 Sad day for Freeride.
  • 6 13
flag Dtower92 (May 15, 2024 at 12:11) (Below Threshold)
 @ShredlyMcShredface: Worlds best bike handlers? GTFO with that garbage. He's not even close.
  • 7 1
Mathieu? Is that you?
  • 4 6
 @ShredlyMcShredface: I dont want to take away from the fact hes a great rider and he may be one of the best bike handlers when it comes to CX, XC & road, but in comparison to DH riders he looks like a baby.

And to continue that analogy, if he looks like a baby we all look like sperm.
  • 4 0
 @Sn0rk: I was with you right up until the end, there.
  • 2 1
 @ShredlyMcShredface: Maybe. But he seems to have issues with fixed objects--like hitting that telephone pole on the last lap of the WC cross race in Spain.
  • 2 0
 In summary MVdP is either the best or worst bike handler.
  • 1 0
 @Swede16: That one could have happened to many of us. Have you never brushed the tape in a race course?
  • 12 0
 The Dutch are likely to qualify a spot via the allocation for best ranked nations at Glasgow 2023. Personally, I'd rather see Tom Schellekens (the guy who actually scored that result in the U23 race) taking the spot.
  • 10 0
 Good choice. He hasn't really been putting much time and practice in MTB competition so it would be better to leave a big event like this for those who do. Bummed to see there might not be a single MTB racer from The Netherlands though. I thought Puck Pieterse stands a fair chance of winning a medal if there would have been a spot for her on the startline.
  • 19 0
 I've edited that to specify male rider. The women are currently ranked 4th in the nation standings so we should see Puck and one other rider in the women's MTB race in Paris.
  • 1 0
 Netherlands doesn’t have an Olympic MTB spot? I thought in the commentators in the last World Cup said she had already qualified for the Olympics with her overall title last year.
  • 2 0
 @xciscool: womens and mens are different points.
  • 2 0
 @Supermoo: I know but Vinay in his comment seemed to imply in Puck was not going,
  • 2 0
 @xciscool: That's true. My post isn't relevant anymore as Sarah updated the article, as she mentioned in a reply above yours. The paragraph above the last quote initially started as "Currently, the Netherlands is ranked 29th in the nation standings which means that there might not even be a spot for a Dutch rider ...". As she mentioned here, Sarah updated the post so it should be clear now that Puck has qualified for the event.
  • 2 0
 I sincerly think he wouldn't have made top 5. Top 10 is his mtb-rank imho It's to technical nowadays for him, and to get along with new tech just takes a couple of months.

I'am mostly upset about the national MTB coach (a former road cyclist), who is such on hand of MvdP that other talents who are fully committed to MTB will not pursue any career.
The national MTB coach (Gerben de Knegt) is already looking ahead at 2028 with MvdP. That's nuts and not at all in spirit of any sport.
Milan Vader already changed disciplines because he didn't want to ride for MvdP qualification. And now the Netherlands have no representation because of MvdP's disrespect.
  • 4 1
 That's a bummer, but logical.
  • 3 0
 No big surprise...
  • 3 1
 He must have checked the road course for curbs.
  • 2 0
 Damn, bummer.
  • 3 5
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