Mathieu van der Poel decides against riding road race at Toyko 2020 Olympics

The Dutchman will instead focus on mountain bike events

Mathieu van der Poel in the Amstel Gold Race 2019 (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) will not ride the road race at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, instead focusing on the mountain bike competition.

There had been speculation that the Dutchman may try to ride both the road race and mountain bike event, having proven his road pedigree after winning a number of road races this year, including the Amstel Gold Race.

>>> Egan Bernal to compete at World Championships for first time in Yorkshire

However, Van der Poel confirmed to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that trying to ride both events will be too difficult, and he will focus on mountain biking, an event he has already qualified for.

"It is far too difficult, my participation in the road race at the Games is not an option," Van der Poel said.

"I thought about it for a while, but that was at an early stage when the first dates showed that there was a bigger gap between the road race and the mountain bike event."

The newest Olympic schedule shows the road race will now take place on July 25, only two days after the mountain bike race.

Van der Poel will, however, ride the Road World Championships in Yorkshire later this month, as well as the Tour of Britain. The 24-year-old has said his reason behind choosing to target the road race's rainbow bands are due to the course's similarities to the Amstel Gold Race, where he beat Simon Clarke (EF Education First).

"I think the course of the World Championships is comparable to the Amstel Gold Race, there aren't any long climbs but it is also not flat," Van der Poel said.

"Of course, you don't get the chance to ride on a course that suits you so well at the World Championships that often. I don't want to let that chance go."

Van der Poel's decision to choose just one race at Toyko most likely follows his decision to pick the Yorkshire Worlds over the mountain bike world championships, saying "going full for one is better than being able to give eighty per cent twice."

The Dutchman has also indicated he hopes to race a Grand Tour following the 2020 Olympic Games, specifically the Tour de France, which his grandfather Raymond Poulidor made the podium of eight times but never won.

The 2020 Tour de France will start a week early next year, to accommodate the Olympic Games, with riders who hope to race both facing a 6,000 mile journey with just six days between the two races.

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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.