For most humans, riding 143 km is a big day on the bike. Especially when you add in 2,509m of elevation gain along the route. But, for Dutch cycling star Mathieu van der Poel, the 4.5-hour ride (at 31.3 km/h) posted to Strava this week doesn’t even count as training.
At least, that’s what his Alpecin-Fenix team is saying.
Van der Poel is in Spain as part of his recovery from knee surgery early in 2021. While he is back out riding the bike, Alpecin-Fenix is tempering the expectations of impatient fans. The Dutch rider is just riding, not yet training and definitely not racing yet.
“Mathieu is just cycling around as part of his rehabilitation. For a professional cyclist, such short rides fall under the heading of cycling around,” Alpecin-Fenix manager Christoph Roodhooft told Het Laatste Nieuws. “It is not a resumption of training,”
The rest of team Alpecin-Fenix is in Spain for an altitude training camp ahead of the fast-approaching Classics season. While van der Poel joined the team, he is not yet part of the official training.
That could change as soon as Monday. Roodhooft added that should his star feel comfortable with the week’s rides, he could resume proper training with the team in the coming days.
No Strade defense
While van der Poel’s recovery does seem to be coming along well, Roodhooft says racing is still weeks away.
Crucially, the Dutch rider won’t be at Strade Bianche to defend his title.
Later Spring Classics, like Ronde van Vlaanderen, could still be on the table.
It has been a rocky road back to racing for van der Poel. After a back injury during the summer of 2021, a first swing at racing was derailed by a knee injury in the fall. A second attempt to return for cyclocross season ended almost as soon as it started. The Dutch rider then elected to skip cyclocross entirely and underwent surgery to correct the issue before the 2022 season was in full swing.