Mathieu van der Poel continued his outstanding breakout 2019 season with his first ever mountain bike World Cup race victory in the Czech Republic.
The Dutchman attacked and dropped the reigning world and Olympic mountain bike champion, Nino Schurter, eventually beating him by 19 seconds, in a further display of the cross-discipline talent possessed by the 24-year-old.
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Alongside his first XCO World Cup victory, Van der Poel has won a World Cup and world championships in cyclo-cross, as well as the WorldTour road races Amstel Gold Race, Dwars door Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl in the first five months of 2019.
Speaking after the finish, Van der Poel said: “Winning a mountain bike World Cup is one of the toughest things I can do. I’ve been trying for 3 years now… I’m really proud.”
Van der Poel added a final road race to his calendar before the mountain bike season commenced, racing Puivelde Koerse on May 15 in Belgium, with the Dutchman saying he wants to focus more on road racing in the future, gaining a number of high-profile supporters of this endeavour.
The Corendon-Circus rider has said he “really wants to ride a Grand Tour after Tokyo 2020” having booked his place at the Games in Japan after coming second in the World Cup mountain biking even in Albstadt on May 19 and accruing enough UCI points to qualify.
This sentiment has been backed up by his grandfather, perennial Tour de France podium finisher and cycling great Raymond Poulidor, who said “he will have to ride the Tour de France in future”.
“He’s already doing huge things at his age, and he’s adapting to all the disciplines of cycling,” Poulidor told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
“One day I think he wants to do the Tour, who knows, but I think he will have to do it in the future. I don’t see him ever giving up cyclocross though, it is sacred to him.”
A more immediate target on the road could be the upcoming 2019 world championships in Yorkshire. with Dutch national team coach Koos Moerenhout publicly calling for the young talent to take the start line in September.
“It’s a course that suits Van der Poel perfectly,” Moerenhout told Dutch newspaper AD. “It should come as no surprise that I would like to have him there. If he goes to the world championships, and is as perfectly prepared as he was for this spring, then he belongs there.”