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Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) has not confirmed when he will return to racing following his lengthy injury lay-off, but he could make his debut at the Giro d’Italia in May.
That’s according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, which posted a Tweet that the Italian grand tour is being touted as part of van der Poel’s race calendar, though there was no official confirmation.
Van der Poel has not raced since late December after he pulled out of the Heusden-Zolder cyclocross race due to a flare-up of a back injury that plagued him throughout much of 2021.
The Dutchman made his grand tour debut last season at the Tour de France, where won a stage and spent most of the opening week in the yellow jersey before exiting early to refocus on the Olympic Games.
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If he was to ride the Giro this season, it would only be the second three-week race of his career. Sprinter Tim Merlier is already scheduled to ride the Italian grand tour, where he won a stage last season.
No formal racing plans for 2022 have been laid out for van der Poel and his return to road racing has been put indefinitely on hold while he recovers.
He recently started riding his bike again this month, but the Alpecin-Fenix management was keen to impress that it was “not a resumption of training.”
Info @Gazzetta_it – Still yet to decide when @mathieuvdpoel will be back in competion this year. According to our sources there is the option to add @giroditalia 2022 in his program but obviously is not decided yet @AlpecinFenix @cycling_podcast
— Ciro Scognamiglio (@cirogazzetta) February 22, 2022
“Mathieu is just cycling around as part of his rehabilitation. For a professional cyclist, such short rides fall under the heading of cycling around. It is not a resumption of training,” Alpecin-Fenix team manager Christoph Roodhooft told Het Laatste Nieuws earlier this month.
Van der Poel was forced to skip the defense of his world title due to his back injury, and he also underwent a knee operation in early January after a pre-cyclocross season crash left him with some scar tissue that needed removing.
Van der Poel’s 2021 season was heavily affected by the back injury, which he picked up at the Albstade mountain bike World Cup round in May last year.
After crashing out of the Olympic Games, he was forced to skip much of his fall racing program, only completing five days of racing before ending his road season with third at Paris-Roubaix.