Racing against Van der Poel and Van Aert 'is like MotoGP', says Oliver Naesen

The Belgian marvels at the year-round top-level of the two rivals

Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty)

Oliver Naesen says racing against Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert is more like being in the MotoGP than the professional peloton, given the speed of the pair.

The Belgian was speaking in a podcast interview with La Dernière Heure about his spring campaign, saying it's almost impossible to keep up with either rider.

“Every generation has its champions. I have experienced Boonen vs Cancellara, Van Avermaet vs Sagan, and now Van Aert vs Van der Poel," Naesen said. "But you only saw Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara in the spring and maybe a few stages in the Tour. Mathieu and Wout win at the start of the season and are favorites in all the classics. Last year, Van Aert was also the best rider in the Tour. 

"Then they go on holiday for a while before bending all cyclocross races to their will. Those two are at the top non-stop. Is that frustrating? It's more motivating, although it would be nice if they were just a little less good, ha! Can I keep up with them? Then I'll need more talent."

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In news that will hardly reassure the fast men of the upcoming Tour de France, where Van der Poel will be making his Tour debut and Wout van Aert confirmed his form has returned, winning the Belgian national road race title after having his appendix removed, Naesen says he hasn't yet figured out how anyone is supposed to beat them.

"I'm just missing a few extra watts. For a Classics rider, I'm pretty fast in the sprint, but those guys are super fast. You should already be able to follow them and then get to the finish as fresh as possible. Knowing they have a better end shot. That's challenging," he said. "Sometimes I really wonder how the hell am I supposed to attack those guys with a bike. It's exactly like MotoGP with them.”

Van Aert will be performing super-domestique duties for Jumbo-Visma team-mate Primož Roglič as the Dutch team tries to capture the yellow jersey, but the Belgian will likely be allowed to contest the sprint victories in the eight flat stages in this year's edition.

Van der Poel, meanwhile, will likely target both the flat and hillier stages, and as leader of the Alpecin-Fenix squad will look to come away from France with at least a stage win.

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.