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Mathieu van der Poel or Wout van Aert, who would you hire?

If you had money to burn and could sign either one, who would it be? We ask our billionaire wanna-be's.

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Imagine you bought Bitcoin when it was pennies on the dollar. Imagine you owned a big chunk of a Silicon Valley Unicorn. Imagine if you wanted a burn a good portion of your fortune on an elite men’s WorldTour cycling team. Imagine you had the financial muscle to sign anyone in the peloton. Who would it be?

Right now, there are two riders in the elite men’s peloton that stand out — Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert. Joined at the hip since they were teens, often separated by inches at the finish line, the Belgian and the Dutch rider can name their price.


Despite your many millions, you can only manage to wrestle one away from their current contract. Who would it be? Wout or Mathieu? Let’s ask our billionaire team owners Andrew Hood and Jim Cotton:

Andrew Hood — early Bitcoin adopter:

Lean mean race machine Mathieu pulls Andrew’s purse strings. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Mathieu van der Poel, name your price. I dig Wout and his pure power, but Mathieu is the Swiss Army Knife of the peloton. No rider, past or present, is as versatile or dynamic as van der Poel. He’s got the genes — grandpa was fast, dad was faster — and he’s got the ambition.

MvdP has the racing chops and the modern media sensibilities to be cycling’s new superstar. And he deserves a superstar salary. Not to worry; I’ll cash in a few more Bitcoins, and will sign him up for life. I just want to watch him race.

Put him on a bike, and point to the finish, and chances are he will be first across the line. It doesn’t matter if it’s dirt, pavement, cobblestones, or sand and sea.

His killer instinct and unbridled ambition, coupled with his natural power and innate bike-handling skills, make him a man for all seasons. He’s already proven he can win monuments (Tour of Flanders and counting) and mastered one discipline (four world CX titles and counting), and now he’s set his sights on the Olympic gold medal (in mountain biking, of course). His power and finesse should see him strike gold in Tokyo — barring event cancelations or ill-timed punctures — before dashing to the world road title in Belgium.

In a perfect world, van der Poel will keep racing as long as he wants, where he wants, in whatever discipline he wants. Why not try track? He’d be amazing to watch in the Madison or points races.

Van der Poel is the Pelé of our time. And in my Bitcoin-fueled fantasy world, the checkbook is open. How many zeroes, Mathieu?

Jim Cotton — British Unicorn:

Strong legs and strong hair: Wout gets Cotton’s coin. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Wout van Aert.

Men want to be him, women want to be with him. That’s why the Belgian gets Jimbo’s e-coins.

He’s got strong legs, strong media skills, heck, he’s even got strong hair. Wout is the complete package for a team looking for a bone fide celebrity cyclist.

Van Aert may have lost out to his nemesis at the ‘cross worlds and the Tour of Flanders, but in terms of pure road potential, Wout’s the man. Second-fastest on the flat course of the 2020 world time trial and again second on the horrendously hilly road championships, Wout’s the man for all occasions.

MvdP winning time trials and blowing the world’s strongest climbers off his wheel at a grand tour like Van Aert did this summer? I don’t think so.

Stage races are next on Wout’s agenda and he’ll likely ace them, too. I’d sign Wout because he’ll be an asset from the opening cobbled classics all the way through to the final stage of the Vuelta and hilly Italian fall classics. That’s bang for buck, baby!

Van Aert has the potential to hit global superstardom in the way that Peter Sagan has. He doesn’t have the crazy unpredictable media schpiel of the Slovak, but instead has the nice-guy vibes and insightful chatter that you rarely get from the occasionally tight-lipped and surly van der Poel.

Sponsors like charisma, fans like soundbites. Wout delivers that with ease, and just to make him even more frustratingly likable, he’s got good looks and a head of good locks. Wout is a quick ticket to putting a team to the top of the headlines.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.