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So much so that Corendon-Circus brass are keeping their multi-discipline superstar close to home.
After a hard effort at Sunday’s elite men’s road cycling championships, when van der Poel surprisingly bonked out of the leading group with less than a lap to go, the Dutch protege will skip an upcoming mountain bike test race on the Olympic venue that will be featured in next summer’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“In this way, we avoid additional burden for Mathieu with another race on a different continent and obviously another jet lag”, a Corendon-Circus press release read Wednesday.
That’s significant because van der Poel has put a shot at the mountain bike Olympic gold medal at the center of his cycling ambitions, a goal that is largely delaying a full-time commitment to road racing.
The test event this weekend in Japan is a full-on race on the exact course the elite international athletes will be facing next summer during the Olympic Games. Test events are required in all Olympic venues, providing organizers and athletes alike a chance to preview courses and facilities that they will be facing in the all-important Olympic competition the following summer.
Many of the Olympic mountain bike favorites will be racing in Tokyo, but van der Poel instead will round out his otherwise spectacular road season at the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro on Thursday.
“We would like to give Mathieu the chance to end an excellent road season in a nice way,” officials said.
Despite the hiccup Sunday that cost him a shot at the world title, van der Poel’s road foray in 2019 was nothing short of spectacular. In 29 race days, he won 10 races and one overall title at the Tour of Britain to give him 11 victories on his abbreviated road season. After winning the world cyclocross title in February, he complemented his busy season to compete in the 2019 mountain bike World Cup, winning three rounds and finishing second overall after he skipped the finals to return to the road.
After concluding his road season in Germany on Thursday, van der Poel will take a short break before kicking off the 2019-2020 cyclocross season.
No rest for the weary. Well, maybe a little bit.