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It’s March, and Mathieu van der Poel has yet to win a road race.
Not to worry, says the multi-discipline star on Alpecin Deceuninck. The best is yet to come.
“I expected to be a little better, but I’m certainly not panicking yet,” Van der Poel told Sporza.
Van der Poel played a key role in Jasper Philipsen’s sprint win this week, but he’s not been at the sharp end of the action yet.
After winning his fifth world title in cyclocross, he returned to Strade Bianche, but was surprisingly flat. He’s still confident he’ll be hitting all cylinders come crunch time in the northern monument.
“I must honestly say that my legs have been a bit disappointing so far”, Van der Poel told journalists in Italy. “I might have expected to be a little better already, but I do think this makes me better towards the goals I had.”
Van der Poel’s relatively slow start is notable simply for his pedigree and track record of barn-storming into every road season. Though this year is a bit more muted, he’s hoping he’s on track for when it really counts in the northern monuments.
“In the end I was able to help a few times, but for myself I expected to be a little better,” he said.
— Domestique (@Domestique___) March 8, 2023
Van der Poel isn’t optimistic he’ll see many chances for a victory in what lies ahead at Tirreno-Adriatico.
After the race, he’s slated for Milan-San Remo, where he hopes to build on his third last year before heading north.
“I’ve already won a similar calendar in 2021 and I know how good I have to be to win. I don’t think I’m at that level at the moment,” he said. “But I’m certainly not panicking yet. I believe this will take me to my best level.”