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Mathieu van der Poel’s surprise Milan-San Remo comeback

The 293 km race is Saturday

It’s common for pros to use some races as preparation for bigger ones down the road, but a 300 km Monument as a group ride is quite the training sesh.

Alpecin–Fenix announced on Friday that their star rider, multiple world champion and yellow jersey wearer, Mathieu van der Poel, will be starting the first big classic of the year, Milan-San Remo.

In a video posted to twitter, MvdP talks about the difficult decision he had to make in 2021 to abandon the ‘cross season in order to rehabilitate his back.

In February, it was clear that his training was progressing well and fans were hopeful he would be racing soon.

Followers noticed he rode a 143 km ride with 2,509 m of elevation gain along the route, averaging 31.3 km/h, and his team said that the ride doesn’t even count as training. At least, that’s what his Alpecin-Fenix team was saying.

Van der Poel was in Spain as part of his recovery from knee surgery early in 2021. While he is back out riding the bike, Alpecin-Fenix was tempering the expectations of impatient fans. The Dutch rider was just riding, not yet training . “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.”

But it seems that his training is going well, since he’s about to jump into a pretty tough ride with his pals for 300 km. It’s possible as well that MvdP is unsure of his fitness and doesn’t want to be too bold about how he will fare. Either way, it’s great news to see one of cycling’s stars back in the game.

Milan-San Remo gets underway at 9:50 local time (10:50 g.m.t, 06:50 e.s.t.) and you can watch it on GCN+.