Mathieu van der Poel is on a highly anticipated quest for an Olympic gold medal in mountain biking. On Tuesday, the Dutch rider share that, even if he does win in Tokyo, it won’t be the end of his mountain bike career. Even with the pressure of road and cyclocross, van der Poel plans on pulling out the mountain bike for years to come.
“In the future I want to continue to combine the different disciplines. I just like that the most,” van der Poel said in a press conference Tuesday. “Regardless of the result at the Games, I will also continue to mountain bike in the coming years. ”
This will be welcome news for fans of cross country racing. After several years of dominance by Nino Schurter, van der Poel’s arrival has brought the level of competition in elite men’s XCO up a notch. After mixed results in Albstadt for the usually-dominant Apecin-Fenix rider, in his first mountain bike race in a year and a half, the contest between him and Nino Schurter is even more intense.
Tour to Tokyo
While the Olympics are van der Poel’s main objective off road, it’s not his only major event this year. Alpecin-Fenix is still counting on its superstar to line up at the 2021 Tour de France this July.
The demanding schedule is the result of coronavirus-related delays pushing the Games back 12 months.
“The mountain bike race at the Olympic Games is still my priority. Of course it is not ideal to switch so much between the road bike and the mountain bike, but that is no different now due to corona. The original plan was of course to ride the Games last year and the Tour this year, but that was canceled. ”
That means a tough transition from France to Japan. The men’s Olympic XCO race is scheduled for July 26, just eight days after the Tour wraps up in Paris.
“I know it is difficult to go to the Games from the Tour,” van der Poel admitted. “But I understand the interests of the team and its sponsors very well. Moreover, I also think the Tour is very beautiful. It is one of the largest sporting events in the world. ”
Asked whether he can keep up with such an intense schedule, and whether he is under pressure – possibly too much pressure – from his Alpecin-Fenix team, the 26-year-old seemed calm.
“Since I started racing, there has been a lot of pressure on me. From the outside, but still mostly from within myself. Sometimes that is difficult, I set the bar highest for myself. But I sincerely believe that it is possible to come out of the Tour in good form and then start in Tokyo. ”
Back to mountain bikes
Sunday’s Albstadt World Cup also saw the arrival of Tom Pidcock. While its not clear yet whether Pidcock can qualify for Tokyo this summer, the British rider is following van der Poel’s lead. Racing for Ineos Grenadiers, Pidcock’s contested Classics on the road, cyclocross races and mountain biking world championships.
With more new faces on the World Cup scene, and van der Poel promising he’ll be present for years to come, the elite men’s field will offer spectacular racing to fans for years to come.