Does Mathieu van der Poel’s talent have limits?
The Dutch superstar has been a dominant force on the cyclocross scene in recent seasons and has carried that ability across to road racing.
Last year the 25-year-old made his first assault on top-tier road racing, winning multiple one-day races, as well as stage victories and the overall at the Tour of Britain.
After all his success, it appeared Van der Poel had just one real weakness – the long climbs.
But he may now have stepped up in ascending during the unexpected off-season, as the Alpecin-Fenix rider topped the Strava leaderboards on a 23km-long climb during an altitude training camp.
Van der Poel and his team-mates have been training around La Plagne ski resort in the Alps, at around 3,250 metres above sea level.
On the final day of training, Van der Poel opted for an attack on the Col de Petit St Bernard, in the hopes of setting a new fastest time on Strava.
The climb is a 23.88km-long ascent, which averages four per cent and gains 1,000m of altitude.
Van der Poel successful took the Strava KoM on the climb on Monday (July 20), with a time of 51-19, just three seconds faster than his team-mate Louis Vervaeke.
But the competition Van der Poel faced on the segment proves his climbing ability, as he beat pure climbers Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) which may be foreboding news for his rivals as the season approaches.
The power numbers from the climb are also staggering, as Van der Poel put out 379 watts for the duration of the climb, which equates to around five watts per kilogram for his 75kg frame.
Van der Poel had planned to start his season at the Sibiu Tour in Romania this month but pulled out last minute due to a spike in coronavirus cases in the country, and instead will head straight to Strade Bianche on August 1.