Mathieu van der Poel has said he intends to continue competing on the mountain bike until the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The Dutchman wants to continue combining road, cyclocross and mountain bike racing for the next four years and was targeting gold in mountain biking at Tokyo 2020 until the Games’ postponement.
“I want to continue to combine the three disciplines,” Van der Poel told WielerFlits. “As it looks now, I’ll stay on the mountain bike until Paris. That also gives me three more years to try and become world champion in that discipline. I really love mountain biking.”
Van der Poel is the current cyclocross world champion, having also won the European mountain bike cross country championships in 2019 as well as the Dutch national road race title in 2018.
The 25-year-old had looked set to start focusing more on his road career, having targeted a first appearance at Paris-Roubaix this year before focusing on the Olympics. But with the cancellation of both events, Van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix squad turned their attention to riding the Vuelta a España, what would have been his first-ever Grand Tour. However, a wildcard invitation was not forthcoming.
“The uniqueness of what I do, combining mountain biking, road cycling and cyclocross – I want to try to keep that up for as long as possible,” Van der Poel said.
“Normally, the focus would have moved very quickly to the Grand Tours, to try to ride a Grand Tour in the next two to three years,” Van der Poel added. “Then I can switch back to mountain biking and ride some more World Cups in between, which can be combined with a Grand Tour. That way I can stay at the top of the ranking.”
While the resurrected road season has been squeezed into the last few months of the year, which could offer Van der Poel the opportunity to take on multiple one-day classics, the knock-on effect is expected to hit cyclocross.
Race organisers are expecting fewer spectators than usual, and the economic effect of fewer ticket sales will mean the riders on the start line receive lower appearance fees.
“It cannot be otherwise,” said one race organiser. “Only [Wout] Van Aert and Van der Poel can afford to do nothing at all. They provide extra publicity and largely pay for themselves.”