Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert can't be on the same team, says Jumbo-Visma boss

The two rivals have been up against each other from their beginnings in cyclocross

Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel battling for yellow in the first week of the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma general manager Richard Plugge has said that rivals Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel can never be on the same team.

The two megastar riders have dominated the sport in the past year, with both achieving incredible things on the bike. They have also been main rivals of each other from an early age racing in cyclocross.

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In an interview with Wielerflits, Plugge said his team have no plans to sign world cyclocross champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), despite his meticulous attention to detail which would fit the philosophy of Jumbo-Visma.

Plugge said that Van der Poel has chosen a different path, which includes competing in road events, cyclocross and mountain bike races. 

The team boss said: “At Alpecin-Fenix he is the one and only king of that team. The whole squad is built around him there. With us, he would also have to deal with other riders. I don't think he wants to, but I don't think we should either." 

In the last two seasons, these two riders have been going at each other hammer and tongs to try and better one another. Wout van Aert has turned himself into an all-terrain rider, winning bunch sprints, time trials, hilly stages along with being up there in the mountains with the very best.

Dutch WorldTour team Jumbo-Visma has been purely focused on their ambition of winning the Tour de France with Primož Roglič in recent seasons, with their Belgian talisman Wout van Aert able to chase results in Classics and individual stages of the Tour, while supporting their chosen general classification leader.

Whereas, Mathieu van der Poel has focused on a specific area that suits him, with that being the punchy stages on short sharp hills as well as the cobbled Classics. However, he has shown that, when he needs to, he can put in some truly amazing efforts on the time trial bike as well as the mountains. 

Van der Poel currently races for Belgian ProTeam Alpecin-Fenix and has been pivotal in helping the squad earn a place in the Tour de France and other major races. 

"Obviously he is a fantastic rider. And indeed he is currently the Dutch icon." Plugge continued. "On the other hand, there are now five riders who colour cycling: Tadej Pogačar, Julian Alaphilippe, Van der Poel, Van Aert and Primož Roglič. Those are the stars that really make the difference, making people stand on the benches. 

"Two of those stars represent our team. We can't have everyone either. Our main sponsor Jumbo Supermarkets also has interests in Belgium and we have the king of Belgium, who is also doing very well.”

The reporter then assumed that Van der Poel and Van Aert could never join forces. Plugge agreed to say they're too similar.

"It's either one or the other. And Wout suits us very well. Everything Wout does, Mathieu does afterwards. He is paving the way for Mathieu, as it were. That is why it is great to have Wout with our team. We are an innovative team."

Plugge explained that Van der Poel has now started to prepare for time trials, much like Van Aert does. As well as saying a 30km time trial should suit Van der Poel as it is similar to a cross country mountain bike effort.

Both riders were battling it out for the yellow jersey in the first week before Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) grabbed control of the race. Since then, Van der Poel has left the race to focus on the mountain bike event at the Olympics where he will go up against the likes of Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers). Van Aert has slipped out of the top-10 in GC and now looking for stage wins and supporting Jonas Vingegaard in his aims for a good GC placing.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.