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Why is van der Poel skipping Mont-Sainte-Anne worlds?

Dutch star's sights still set firmly off-road at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

If there’s a downside to being phenomenally good at everything it is, Mathieu van der Poel seems to be discovering, deciding which things you want to be good at.

The multi-talented Dutch cyclist just released his race calendar for the rest of the road and mountain bike season. Normally, this wouldn’t be that exciting. Van der Poel, though, is trying to balance a rather lofty set of goals as well as the expectations of the cycling-fanatic Dutch fans.

Corendon-Circus press release cuts several major events from MvdP’s calendar, including 2019 UCI mountain bike world championships here in Canada. While some events are missing, the calendar still leaves room, and expectations, for van der Poel to challenge road world championships, mountain bike world championships and the mountain bike cross country event at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo within the next two years.

Mathieu Van der Poel battled Nino Schurter in Nove Mesto to take the Dutch riders first World Cup XCO win.  Image: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

With the announcement coming just weeks after van der Poel completed his three-year quest to win a XCO World Cup, which he did in spectacular fashion by dropping reigning world champion Nino Schurter on the final climb in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, the absence of 2019 XCO worlds is the most glaring omission from the Dutch rider’s plans.

Instead of travelling to Canada for Mont-Sainte-Anne world championships, van der Poel will race UCI road world championships in Yorkshire, U.K.

“Of course I regret I cannot compete in the MTB World Championships, but combining these three events is not possible,” Corendon-Circus quotes van der Poel. “The course in Yorkshire should suit me, and that’s why I am focusing on the Road World Championships. Besides, I really want to cover the test event in Tokyo, the 2020 Olympic Games are still my biggest goal.”

mathieu van der poel
Mathieu van der Poel wins the 2019 Amstel Gold race.  Image: Sirotti

Van der Poel has previously publicly stated his long-term goal is to compete for the Netherlands in cross country mountain biking at the Tokyo 2020. Despite remarkable success on the road, winning Amstel Gold earlier this spring, the Dutch rider remains committed to that goal.

With Mont-Sainte-Anne, Yorkshire and a cross country Olympic test event taking place in Tokyo within a month, and on three different continents, van der Poel and his team were forced to make a tough decision about which events to attend.

In the end, it appears Corendon-Circus and van der Poel decided it was not a matter of if he should try win XCO world championships, but when. Mont-Sainte-Anne is close enough to road world championships in Yorkshire that it would conflict with his efforts there, or with his preparations for Tokyo 2020. Instead, the team is already focused on next years XCO worlds in Alsbstadt, Germany.

We have been working consistently since 2018 towards the 2020 Olympics, which are the big goal for Mathieu and for our team,” Corendon-Circus management stated in the press release. “Next year the Mountain Bike World Championship will take place again in Albstadt,[Germany] a course that Mathieu should also be comfortable with, given his good results there in recent years. That combination with the Olympic Games is fitting. “

mathieu van der poel albstadt germany world cup
Mathieu Van der Poel rode to a hard-fought 2nd at the 2019 UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.  Image: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

After winning the Nove Mesto XCO World Cup, van der Poel announced he would be taking a short break from racing. The Dutch rider had transitioned from winning cyclocross world championships directly into a successful Spring Classics campaign and then cross country World Cup season. The busy calendar left little to no time for recovery.

Fans will next see van der Poel on the start line at the XCO World Cup in Les Gets, France on July 12-14. He will then challenge for the European mountain bike championships in Brno, Czech Republic on July 28 before briefly returning to the road. Skipping the Valnord, Andorra World Cup (July 5-7) and Snowshoe, U.S.A. World Cup (September 6-8) ensures van der Poel will not contest for the World Cup overall title this season.

Road fans can look forward to catching van der Poel in action a the Arctic Tour of Norway (Aug. 15-18) and the OVO Energy Tour of Britain (Sept. 7-14) as the Dutch rider prepares for world championships in Yorkshire on Sept. 29, 2019.

After road world championships, van der Poel will head to Japan for the Olympic mountain bike test event on October 6. From there, he will likely jump right back into cyclocross racing, which will already be well underway.

Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu van der Poel winning 2019 cyclocross world championships in Bogense, Denmark.

Mathieu van der Poel 2019 race calendar

July 12-14 – World Cup XCO, Les Gets, France
July 28 – European mountain bike championships, Brno, Czech Republic
July 31 – Natourcriterium Antwerpen, Belgium
Aug. 2-4 – World Cup XCO, Val di Sole, Italy
Aug. 5 – Natourcriterium Roosendaal, Belgium
Aug 9-11 – World Cup XCO, Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Aug 15-18 – Arctic Race of Norway
Sept 7-14 – OVO Energy Tour of Britain
Sept 28 – UCI road world championships, Yorkshire, GBR
Oct. 6 – Olympic mountain bike test event, Tokyo, japan