Mathieu van der Poel’s dad says the Dutch star still has the ability to surprise him after his unforgettable solo victory in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Alpecin-Fenix rider Van der Poel launched a huge 50km attack on stage five of the Italian stage race, saying he only rode away from his rivals because he was cold.
Despite a spirited chase by race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who was able to close down Van der Poel but not take the stage, it was the cyclocross world champion who held on to take his second victory in the 2021 edition.
Van der Poel’s father Adrie, a former cyclocross world champion and Tour of Flanders winner, said he believes the attack was the best of his son’s career so far.
Adrie recently put together a list of Mathieu’s best victories, including his recent glory in Strade Bianche, but after stage five of Tirreno-Adriatico he has reconsidered his choices.
In an article Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Adrie said: “What Mathieu did yesterday in the Tirreno is by far his best ride ever. In this field, with this weather, on that course, with such a final and then standing against the best riders in the world – he can still surprise me.”
Van der Poel launched his attack with 50km remaining of the 205km stage from Castellalto to Castelfidardo, pulling out a three-minute advantage in biting cold and rainy conditions.
As the peloton fell to pieces behind on a challenging finishing course, Tadej Pogačar then launched his own solo attack from a chasing group behind, as the Slovenian extended his overall lead to Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
Van der Poel very narrowly held on to the stage victory, as Pogačar finished just 10 seconds behind, cementing his lead with just two stages left to race.
Meanwhile Van der Poel’s great rival Van Aert has been targeting a different result in Italy, as he tests his form in the general classification for the first time.
While Van Aert wasn’t able to match up to Pogačar on the undulating course on stage five, he still remains in second place ahead of other established Grand Tour riders like Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas.
Van Aert’s team said the Belgian continues to amaze, as he competes against former Tour de France champions.
The 26-year-old also won the opening stage in a remarkable bunch sprint.