Cyclo-crosser Mathieu Van Der Poel
Van Der Poel? That name sounds familiar…
It’s because Mathieu’s father is the legendary Adri Van Der Poel, winner of the cyclo-cross world title in 1996 and six-time Dutch champion. As formidable as he was on the dirt, he was also a more than handy Classics rider on the road, winning both the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1986 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège two years later. Adri’s brother, Jacques, also rode as a pro, while Mathieu’s older brother David, rides ‘cross on the same BKCP-Powerplus team.
Cycling’s in his blood, then?
Way back through the generations. Mathieu’s maternal grandfather is none other than Raymond Poulidor, the ‘eternal second’ and three-time Tour de France runner-up who had the misfortune to have a career that coincided with both Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.
The progeny of famous athletes rarely attain the same lofty heights, though…
True, but the early signs with 19-year-old Mathieu are very promising indeed. He’s won world and national titles galore, both on and off-road. A sick Mathieu missed out on the U23 Worlds ‘cross title in Hoogerheide, settling for bronze after the Belgians came out all guns blazing. Although given it was his first year at that level, he was right when he said people “expect too much”. Earlier in 2014, he became the Dutch U23 national champion for the first time and the year before became world junior cyclo-cross champion. His road career is no less impressive; in Florence last year, he won the Junior Road Race with a devastating attack on the final ascent before soloing to victory.
Sounds like a real all-round talent. Where does his heart lie, the dirt or the road?
He prefers ‘cross racing for now and with his team, BKCP-Powerplus, intends to focus his attention there for at least the next four seasons. But he adds, “Lars Boom and Zdeněk Štybar did cyclo-cross before switching to the road and they’re my idols. They prove you don’t have to change right now. There’s time.”
For at least the next four seasons Van Der Poel will focus on cyclo- cross