Mathieu van der Poel’s debut spring campaign could have hardly gone better. An exhilarating win in the Amstel Gold Race, victories in De Brabantse Pijl and Dwars door Vlaanderen and fourth place finishes in both the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem.
This has turned the head of nearly everyone, sports directors and fans alike, not to mention the Dutch national coach who has come out and publicly said he wants Van der Poel to make changes to his planned racing calendar and take the start in Yorkshire for the World Championships later this year.
Koos Moerenhout, who has already been over in Yorkshire to check out the course, and told Dutch newspaper AD: “It’s a course that suits Van der Poel perfectly. It should come as no surprise that I would like to have him there. If he goes to the world championships, and is as perfectly prepared as he was for this spring, then he belongs there.”
Van der Poel had planned his 2019 to encompass a variety of disciplines, with the two-time cyclocross world champion set to race in the mountain bike World Championships in Canada at the end of August, with the road Worlds taking place in Yorkshire a month later, just as the cyclocross season kicks off.
As much as he has now publicly courted a rider who could win the rainbow jersey for the Netherlands, Moerenhout has said the choice is completely Van der Poel’s to make: “It is primarily a matter for Mathieu. He has to see if it fits in with his programme, given his activities on the mountain bike and his preparation for the ‘cross season.
“We’ll talk about it soon and then make a decision, but Mathieu has shown that he can make good choices.”
Last year the Dutch lined up in Innsbruck boasting talent such as the 2017 Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk, but Moerenhout has said Van der Poel would take a team leadership role as his form and results have been too good to ignore.
“It may be that some of the riders frown upon it – a young upstart coming straight in – but on the other hand his class is unquestionable. Even the current riders will confirm that.”