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Tour de France

Mathieu van der Poel confirms he’s ready for Tour de France

Dutch star blasted to victory Monday to confirm he's primed for success in his highly anticipated Tour de France debut later this month.

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It didn’t take long for Mathieu van der Poel to confirm he’ll be ready for the Tour de France.

The Dutch superstar pounced to victory Monday at the Tour de Suisse in a booming sprint under the rain, and put to rest any questions about his motivation for his upcoming Tour debut.

“I came here to win a stage and I knew the first two stages were tailor-made for me,” van der Poel said Monday. “Then it’s up to the climbers. The fact that I immediately won in the first stage makes me happy, especially when you see which riders I have won here, you realize that it was certainly not easy.”

Also read: Mathieu van der Poel sprints to victory

Van der Poel, who last raced on the road with second at Ronde van Vlaanderen, blasted to victory in a wet and attack-riddled finale at stage 2 at the Swiss tour. After a solid opening time trial to open the Swiss tour Sunday, he also moved into fourth overall, now just six seconds behind Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ).

“The last three kilometers were a bit weird. I was just speeding to catch up and suddenly I had a gap,” he told reporters Monday. “Then it was equally difficult to decide whether to go for the sprint or not. The difference was always quite small. When Schachmann came in, he took over and things got a little easier. I then felt that I still had a good sprint in my legs.”

The victory was a good sign for van der Poel, who dipped back into mountain biking this spring to hone his form and gain more points ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Van der Poel recently came off a high-altitude training camp, where he also continued to train on the dirt and road ahead of his most important targets of 2021.

Also read: Tom Pidcock rides away from van der Poel 

All eyes will be on Van der Poel and his highly anticipated Tour debut.

Van der Poel is expected to clash with the likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in the opening week of the Tour packed with opportunities for a stage win and the yellow jersey.

So far, van der Poel seemed coy about the Tour.

His master plan was disrupted last summer when COVID-19 forced the delay of the Tokyo Games until August. Van der Poel is putting a run at the gold medal in mountain biking at the top of his priorities.

Those ambitions locked horns with the team’s presence at the Tour for 2021.

With the team earning an automatic bid going into 2021, Alpecin-Fenix made it no secret that Van der Poel’s presence at the Tour was going to be a guarantee.

Van der Poel has since accepted his fate and said he’s excited about racing the Tour, but doesn’t hide the fact that in an ideal world, he’d prefer to have a clean run into the Olympic Games.

Even if he might not prefer it, his presence at the Tour will only heighten interest in his already impressive trajectory.

Van der Poel will be in the hunt for a stage victory, especially in the Tour’s lumpy first week, and it’s unknown how long he will race the Tour. It isn’t expected he will finish in Paris.

Monday’s brilliant victory erases any doubt and confirmed one of cycling’s top stars will be hitting the Tour in stage-winning form.

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