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.
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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.