Mathieu van der Poel will not race Benelux Tour, team confirm, but should recover in time for Worlds and Roubaix

The defending champion was hoping to ride the WorldTour race to prepare for the World Championships and Paris-Roubaix

Mathieu van der Poel after crashing at Tokyo 2020 Olympic cross country mountain bike race
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alpecin-Fenix have confirmed Mathieu van der Poel will not be riding the Benelux Tour as it comes too soon for him to have enough time to recover from his back injury.

Van der Poel has been suffering from back pain since May but it was made worse by a crash at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cross country mountain bike race where he landed on the base of his back, forcing him to abandon.

The Dutch star of road, mountain biking and cyclocross was due to ride the Benelux Tour as a build-up for the World Championships in Flanders as well as Paris-Roubaix, which was rescheduled to October due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, his injury has proven to be too much, with his team posting a statement to social media saying he wouldn't be participating in the stage race: "Mathieu van der Poel was hoping to defend his title at the Benelux Tour, but unfortunately he will have to sit out the race due to his back problems, Van der Poel hasn't been able to train optimally in recent weeks and the Benelux Tour comes too soon."

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There is yet hope, in what will come as a relief to fans and strike fear into the heart of his rivals, that he will recover in time for both the Worlds and the Hell of the North.

"His adjusted training and race schedule for the coming months will be made according to his recovery. At this moment there is no reason to question [his] participation at the World Championships and Paris-Roubaix."

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Recently, Van der Poel had to pull out of the mountain bike World Championships in Val di Sole, which are currently taking place, due to his injuries, prompting his father, Adrie, to urge his son to save himself for the cyclocross season instead.

"Maybe he should consider not riding anymore and go full for a cyclocross winter," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "It doesn't make sense to start in the Benelux Tour only to find out after three days that it's not going to work."

Van der Poel has had an amazing season up to this point, taking seven wins and a six-day stint in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France but his last few goals of the season now look in jeopardy due to this injury.

The Benelux Tour is due to start on Monday, August 30 in Surhuisterveen and finish in the famous town of Geraardsbergen on Sunday, September 5.

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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.