‘He has something very special, like a young Peter Sagan’

Sven Nys tips Mathieu van der Poel for greatness, but laments that that might be on the road

If you’re a young up-and-coming rider, then there are worse things that could happen than have one of the most successful cyclocross racers of all time compare you to the current best rider in the world.

That’s exactly what has happened to Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel, who has been described by two-time cyclocross world champion Sven Nys as “like a young Peter Sagan.”

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Speaking to Sporza, Nys said that he was excited by the battle between Van der Poel and his Belgian rival Wout Van Aert, the two young riders currently sitting first and second in the World Cup standings.

“The level is incredibly high, and cyclocross has always lived on these duels. Van der Poel and Van Aert both have their qualities and I think there are still beautiful duels to come.

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“When they were young Van der Poel usually got the better of Van Aert, and this is still showing now.

“Mathieu has something very special, like a young Peter Sagan. They don’t make them every year.”

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However, with Mathieu van der Poel being strongly linked with Team Sky, Nys says that he is worried that young riders are moving to the road before fulfilling their cyclocross potential.

“Van Aert and Van der Poel now dominate the races, but I think the fact that they have already announced that they will race cyclocross for two years and then leave is a big problem.

“That creates a negative atmosphere within ‘cross and that’s a pity.”