Scout­ing Re­port

Cy­clo-crosser Mathieu Van Der Poel

Procycling - - Prologue -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.