Mathieu van der Poel won’t stop until he’s offended all of Italy

Where will this end?

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Mathieu van der Poel’s presence at the Giro d’Italia has sprinkled some extra star dust over proceedings. His stage 1 win and stint in pink provided a spectacular opening to Grand Tour racing in 2022.

However, his race has not been without controversy.

First, we had the controversial video of the Dutchman eating spaghetti with ketchup come to light while the race was still in Hungary. Van der Poel made excuses that he was left with no choice.

The Alpecin-Fenix man arrived in Italy without problem, hordes of tifosi weren’t waiting in Sicily to protest his arrival and stop his journey to the mainland.

And so, the race continued as expected. Van der Poel hauled himself over Mount Etna, was active on the blistering Napoli stage before being bested by Biniam Girmay on stage 10 as cycling history was made.

After the sizeable mountain day of stage 15, Mathieu van der Poel treated himself to a well-earned pizza. The box containing the Margherita sat lazily on his lap, threatening to fall onto the floor of the team bus. Van der Poel sat slouched, still in his kit, eyes glazed over from the exertion of the day.

“When they forget to put olives on your pizza again,” Dutch journalist Thijs Zonneveld intuited, taking his expression to be one of shock.

“Pineapple,” Van der Poel corrected him in response as to the topping he wished was on the pizza.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Was Van der Poel purposefully irking the Italian people once again or is pineapple on pizza a genuinely held belief of his?

And still, this saga isn’t over just yet. Further evidence has emerged of Van der Poel committing another cardinal sin of Italian cuisine and culture.

Coffee with milk, according to Italian food rules, shouldn’t be enjoyed after noon. They argue the milk that makes up over half of the contents of the drink upsets digestion.

On the Giro’s second rest day Van der Poel posted a photo on his Instagram of a cappuccino or flat white he’d ordered at a cafe. The time? 12.15 pm.

The price of Van der Poel’s crimes against Italy? Well, the mountains of the final week of this Italian Grand Tour should dish out some punishment to the Dutchman.

“Hey Mathieu van der Poel, we throw you a challenge,” the Giro d’Italia’s social media team tweeted at the rider. “If you win another stage, the social team will eat a pineapple pizza.”

As if Van der Poel ever needed any extra incentive to win a bike race.

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