Mathieu van der Poel has returned to cycling on the Costa Blanca coastline in Spain this week, as he continues his recovery from a back injury that saw him miss the Cyclocross World Championship in USA at the end of January.
During his time off, Alpecin-Fenix also announced the Dutchman had minor knee surgery to remove scar tissue relating to a previous crash. Consequently, Van der Poel has only recently managed to start cycling again, having missed pre-season preparations last month.
Before heading to Spain, the 27-year-old completed some rides in Belgium, one of which saw him complete 95km on Monday 7 February alongside his father, Adrie. According to his dad though, these rides don't constitute training.
Adrie van der Poel told Wielerrevue. “He is not training yet, but cycling. There is a big difference. He will not train again until the injury is over and that is not the case yet. It will soon be time for the Classics. I hope he will start again in April, but if it doesn't go well, he may have to skip the spring.
“First, that back has to be perfectly in order. In any case, it is going in the right direction."
Posting his Thursday ride to Strava, Van der Poel completed 98km in three hours and fifteen minutes, including an elevation gain of 4,698ft. However, reports suggest Van der Poel rode alone, despite joining up with team-mates from Alpecin-Fenix and Plantur-Pura (the women's branch of the team) in Spain.
Alpecin-Fenix sporting manager Christoph Roodhooft echoed Adrie's comments that Mathieu isn't training too, suggesting he is still rehabilitating.
Roodhooft said: “Mathieu is just cycling around as part of his rehabilitation. For a professional cyclist, such short trips fall under the heading of cycling around. It is not a resumption of training."
Alpecin-Fenix confirmed Van der Poel will only have a competition programme once he completes a pain-free training block. This means it is more than likely he won't defend his Strade Bianche title on March 5, but he could return at the end of March or in early April at other Spring Classics.
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