Mathieu van der Poel: ‘If I can, I will make my Tour de France debut this year’

The Dutchman says if the Tour is ridden at some point this year his team have an outside chance of being included

After previously saying he will bide his time for his first Grand Tour, Mathieu van der Poel has decided that if the Tour de France is raced this year then he wants to be on the start line.

While his Alpecin-Fenix squad have not initially been given a wildcard spot for the 2020 edition, those places being given to Total Direct Energie, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept and Arkéa-Samsic, the Dutchman says his team still have a chance of being included.

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“If the Tour is ridden this year, we may be able to get a spot in there,” Van der Poel told Sporza. “I think it would be an exceptional Tour de France, with a lot of other types of riders, I would certainly be open to that.”

The 25-year-old initially said the earliest he would race the Tour would be 2021 as this year he planned to focus on the mountain bike event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, with the Games postponed and the lack of racing this year already reduced, Van der Poel is looking for any opportunity to build on his breakthrough 2020 road season.

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“It was a good time to do mountain biking this year and then make my debut next year in a Grand Tour, perhaps in the Tour, that would have been nice.” Van der Poel said. “Now we have to adapt because that Olympic dream is certainly not gone yet. I will now do mountain biking next year.”

Another 2020 goal of Van der Poel’s has also been thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic as the spring Classics fell by the wayside. Van der Poel has so far only heard rumours of these events being rescheduled for the autumn and will make a decision on whether to train and race them when scheduling decisions are final.

“I can’t say anything about it either. I’ve heard rumours about a Tour of Flanders in the autumn but I don’t commit to anything. I wait until it is final and then we can rebuild again.”