Door opens for Van der Poel to make debuts at Strade-Bianche, Sanremo, Lombardia

RCS Sport offers wildcard slots to Alpecin-Fenix at all its one-day races.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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Mathieu van der Poel may be out scouting the cobbles of the northern classics this week, but the door has now opened for him to target a full set of Italian classics this August.

RCS Sport, organizer of all the major Italian races on the WorldTour calendar, has offered van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix team wildcard slots at all its one-day races.

Van der Poel is now likely to add Strade Bianche, August 1, Milano-Sanremo, August 8, and Il Lombardia, August 15, to his targets for the year, which also include the cobbles of Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.

RCS Sport has also offered van der Poel and his team starts at August races Milano-Torino and Gran Piemonte, and September’s week-long Tirreno-Adriatico. As expected, the Belgian outfit was not invited to the Giro d’Italia, with the three available spaces going to Italian teams Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec, Bardiani CSF Faizanè, and Vini Zabù KTM.

Having seen his Olympic mountain bike ambitions and grand tour aspirations go up in smoke this season, the ability to make first-ever starts at the Italian one-dayers will act as a salve to van der Poel, who said last month he’s “open to everything.”

After an emphatic victory at Amstel Gold and near-misses at Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders in 2019, the 25-year-old has proven both hilly and cobbled races are well within his skillset. Having raced through many winters of the heavy mud of cyclocross, the Dutchman is likely to float across the dusty roads of Strade Bianche. It’s a tantalizing prospect.

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