Mathieu van der Poel wore white shorts at Tour of Flanders ‘for tactical reasons’

The Dutchman made the controversial decision to stray from dark shorts

Mathieu van der Poel on his way to fourth place in his debut Tour of Flanders (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Mathieu van der Poel opted for white shorts in the Tour of Flanders "for tactical reasons."

Even van der Poel’s father Adrie, a cyclocross legend and Flanders winner himself, said he was surprised by the decision to make the switch from his usual black shorts.

But Adrie van der Poel has explained that the decision was a tactical move.

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The elder van der Poel told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “It was a conscious choice by [Corendon-Circus team managers] the Roodhooft brothers, for tactical reasons.

“They had seen in Dwars door Vlaanderen that in the helicopter images Mathieu was difficult to distinguish from the Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels.

“With white bibshorts they were able to recognise Mathieu much faster and give him the right tactical tips via the course radio.

“That way they could quickly tell him when he had to move up in a group.

“I thought those white bib shorts a brilliant move.”

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For many, Van der Poel was the rider of the day at Flanders on Sunday.

After suffering a bizarre crash and looking like he might have to abandon, the reigning cyclocross world champion rode through the bunch and into the front group.

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The 24-year-old then sprinted to fourth place behind Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).

Many were quick to point out Van der Poel’s short choice on Twitter, while Burgos-BH rider Jetse Bol was ahead of the pack and guessed the exact reason for the decision.

White shorts are considered a cycling cardinal sin by many, mostly due to the fact they can be almost see through.

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But despite the controversy, plenty of pros have opted for white shorts in the past.

Peter Sagan, Adam Blythe in his British national champion’s kit, and formerly the entire Groupama-FDJ squad have all braved public opinion.

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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.