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Mathieu van der Poel’s return to competition appears to be imminent. A back injury has sidelined him for a significant stretch at the beginning of the 2022 season, but multiple media outlets report that the Dutch star will make his first race start in just under two weeks at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
From there, he plans to kick off his Classics campaign at Dwars door Vlaanderen before making a run at the Tour of Flanders, where he won in 2020 and finished second in 2021.
Back issues that cropped up last season continued to bother him as he shifted his focus to cyclocross in December. After two races, he cut his ‘cross campaign short. He has not raced in 2022, and he underwent knee surgery in January during his time away from competition.
Van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team left it open-ended as to when he would be ready to get back to racing, and neither party has made any official statements to confirm that he will indeed be back in the near future, but Het Laatste Nieuws reports that he will make his return at the Coppi e Bartali with his Classics goals to follow.
The Tour of Flanders offered further evidence of Van der Poel’s imminent return on Thursday in a tweet.
What sort of condition Van der Poel will bring to his first few races after his time away from competition remains to be seen, but he has already been training for weeks in Spain.
Coppi e Bartali gets underway on March 22 in Italy, with Dwars door Vlaanderen taking place on March 30 and the Tour of Flanders on April 3.