Mathieu van der Poel has hinted his debut Tour de France could happen in 2021.
With the young Dutchman having already taken multiple cyclocross championships as well as the Dutch national road race title and an Amstel Gold win at the age of just 24, great expectation is placed on Van der Poel’s shoulders and much is made of which races he will ride and when.
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When asked about the Tour a week after his grandfather, Tour de France legend Raymond Poulidor, passed away, Van der Poel reiterated that his packed 2020 schedule, where he will focus on the spring Classics and Tokyo Olympic road race, won’t allow him to compete in the French Grand Tour next year.
“Next year I will not ride the Tour anyway because I want to participate in the Games on the mountain bike and both events coincide badly on the calendar,” Van der Poel told NUsport.
However, the Corendon-Circus rider has said he could still make his Grand Tour debut in 2020, with the Vuelta a España situated after the main races of his season. Unlike this year where he found himself at the business end of the UCI Road World Championships race on a Yorkshire course that suited his abilities, the 2020 Swiss route will likely prove too hilly for him to mount a serious challenge for the rainbow bands.
“Maybe participating in the Vuelta a España is going to be an option, but I’m not deciding that yet,” Van der Poel said. “It could certainly be that I will appear at the start of the Tour in 2021, but nothing has been decided on that either.”
This theory is bolstered by the fact that Corendon-Circus, who race at the pro-continetal level, appear confident of acquiring a wildcard entry to the Vuelta next year.
Van der Poel says his Grand Tour ambitions partly developed from watching his long-time rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) making his debut this year and finding himself to be competitive, winning the flat stage 10 to Albi.
“For me, his performance in the Tour is an indication of what I could do in that race,” Van der Poel added. It makes me dream a bit. Like, if Wout could win that sprint, I would normally have been among them.”