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."
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."
Unfortunately @mathieuvdpoel won't be able to defend his title at the @BeneluxTour 🇧🇪🇳🇱🇱🇺His adjusted schedule for the coming months will be announced later, according to his recovery. pic.twitter.com/kZouIT4MhKAugust 27, 2021
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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