Van der Poel swaps dirt for pavement ahead of run at road worlds

Dutch sensation puts his mountain biking ambitions on hold to prepare for the road worlds in Yorkshire

Photo: Getty Images

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Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) is set to return to skinny-tire racing for the first time since winning Amstel Gold Race in dramatic fashion in April.

Van der Poel, 24, will line up at the Arctic Race of Norway (August 15-18) after a recent successful swing through the World Cup mountain bike circuit. He is also expected to race the OVO Energy Tour of Britain ( September 7-14) ahead of a run at the world road title in Yorkshire.

“The route at the Arctic race is a little too heavy for me right now to think about the GC,” van der Poel said during a pre-race press conference. “It’s a big change from mountain bike to road racing, but I would like to try to win a stage or two.”

The decision to resume road racing means the end of van der Poel’s 2019 mountain bike racing season. Van der Poel won back-to-back World Cups at Val di Sole and Lenzerheide, but decided earlier this season that he would target the world road racing championships.

“Of course I regret I cannot compete in the mountain bike world championships,” van der Poel said in June. “But the course in Yorkshire should suit me, and that’s why I am focusing on the road world championships.”

That means the Dutchman will miss the mountain bike world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, at the end of this month, as well as the mountain bike World Cup finals in Snowshoe, West Virginia, September 7-8. That decision will cost van der Poel a possible rainbow jersey and series title, as he currently trails leader Nino Schurter by just 21 points in the overall World Cup standings.

But van der Poel and the Dutch national road team believe he has a good chance of winning the road rainbow jersey on the hilly and demanding Yorkshire course. After another cyclocross season and jaunt across the cobblestones next spring, van der Poel will be targeting a mountain bike gold medal at the Olympics in Tokyo next summer.

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