'I was able to test my legs and it felt good': Mathieu van der Poel confident ahead of Yorkshire Worlds road race

The young Dutchman is one of the favourites to take the rainbow bands in Harrogate

Mathieu van der Poel (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) is feeling in fighting form ahead of his first ever World Championship road race next weekend in Yorkshire.

The 24-year-old has had a breakthrough 2019 season, picking up a memorable win at the Amstel Gold Race, before coming second behind Elia Viviani (Italy) at the European Championship road race and then taking his first stage race overall victory at the Tour of Britain.

>>> UCI Road World Championships 2019 in Yorkshire: routes, TV guides, start lists

Despite being hotly tipped, the young Dutchman will face formidable competition from three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Slovakia) and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.

He has been preparing for his tilt at the rainbow bands at the Primus Classic, a 197km-long Belgian race, to get a sizeable number of kilometres into his legs before the 285km Yorkshire course.

"I was able to test my legs and it felt good," Van der Poel told Het Laatste Nieuws, "[it] was just a matter of getting the distance in the legs.

"I think it's important to ride once in the region of 300 kilometres. I didn't get that at the Tour of Britain. This was the ideal day for it, and it's how I did it for the Classics."

Van der Poel didn't contest the sprint in the race, finishing 19th while Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) rode to victory. However, the Corendon-Circus rider stretched his legs on a hilly cobbled section, showing his attacking intent ahead of a Yorkshire parcours that will provide for explosive racing.

"I wasn't very well positioned," Van der Poel said, analysing his performance, "and anyway, if the race isn't difficult enough, I'm normally not the fastest at this type of finish. I just crossed the line quietly."

The men's elite road race will take place on Sunday September 29, with the peloton setting off from Leeds before eventually finishing in Harrogate, with large crowds expected to line the route.

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

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.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and 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.