Mathieu van der Poel says he ‘doesn’t draw any conclusions for the Tour of Flanders’ after struggling in Dwars door Vlaanderen

The reigning Flanders champion said it wasn’t his day in Belgium 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel says he’s not drawing any conclusions for the Tour of Flanders, after he struggled through Dwars door Vlaanderen this week.

The Dutch superstar showed rare signs of weakness in the Belgian one-day race on Wednesday (March 31), admitting after the finish that he “didn’t have the legs.”

Despite being unsure what caused his dip in form just four days before the Tour of Flanders, the Alpecin-Fenix rider isn’t discouraged ahead of the cobbled Monument. 

Speaking to cycling website Wielerflits (opens in new tab) after the finish, reigning Flanders champion Van der Poel said: “I didn't have the legs. But I don't draw any conclusions from that for the Tour of Flanders. 

“It really wasn't my day. Whether it was the heat? That could be it - I don't like the heat. In any case, I had enough food and drink, that was not the problem.” 

Van der Poel, 26, looked to be struggling throughout the day on Wednesday and didn't feature in the final, as Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) rode away solo to victory.  

The cyclocross world champion eventually admitted defeat and rode for his team-mate Tim Merlier, who sprinted to third place, while Van der Poel finished in 58th, 1-41 down on the winner. 

But Van der Poel said he was not alone in struggling through the day, as he said world champion Julian Alaphilippe also told him he was suffering. 

Looking ahead to the Tour of Flanders on Sunday (April 4), Van der Poel said: “But why should my underachievement today be a precursor to Sunday? Look at Wout Van Aert.

“He was also not top in E3 Saxo Bank Classic, but then you see him convincingly winning Ghent-Wevelgem two days later. 

“It will also be less warm on Sunday than today. ” 

>>> Who are the bookies’s favourites to win the Tour of Flanders 2021? 

Despite the unexpected dip in form, Van der Poel remains bookies’s favourite to repeat his 2020 Flanders victory, followed by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step).  

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

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.