'I would have signed for this before': Van der Poel holds onto pink jersey at Giro d'Italia with second on time trial

Dutchman hopes to hold onto race lead until Sicily

Mathieu van der Poel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel did not seem incredibly disappointed with his result on stage two of the Giro d'Italia. Despite finishing just three seconds behind Simon Yates, the Alpecin-Fenix rider was content with simply holding onto the maglia rosa.

For anyone else, this could have been a crushing moment. To give an example, his compatriot Tom Dumoulin looked dismayed at his third place, as he came in two seconds further back. On his first grand tour since his sabbatical, the Jumbo-Visma looked heartbroken and just missing out on victory.

But Van der Poel was fine. He wins all the time. He won on stage one, so he has already achieved his objective to triumph at the first opportunity and therefore claim the pink jersey. He has no ulterior motives for the general classification, so to keep pink is good enough, or so it seems. 

Asked if he was satisfied, the Dutchman said: "Yeah for sure, I would have signed for this before. I think I did a really good TT. The difference between winning and second is pretty close, I got myself an extra day in the pink jersey so I’m pretty happy."

Some tipped him for victory in the time trial, despite it never being his favoured discipline. However, a distinctive jersey can give a rider extra watts against the clock, as seen when Julian Alaphilippe triumphed in yellow at the Tour de France in 2019, or when Van der Poel himself came fifth on the stage five time trial at last year's race, to hold onto the maillot jaune.

It was not the hardest course, not a route for the pure rouleurs, like a Dumoulin. Therefore Van der Poel could put his all in for 12 minutes and hope to come out with a result, and that's what he did.

"I knew I needed something left for the final climb," he said after. "Overall I can be pretty happy with my performance.

"It was a pretty hard time trial, and of course there were a few corners but they were all pretty fast."

As for what happens next, Van der Poel looks set up for holding the pink jersey at least until the first rest day and then Italy. Sunday's stage is a pan flat sprint stage, so there should be no trouble there; he might even win again. Stage four, on Tuesday, is a bit more of a test, but who could bet against the irrepressible Dutchman.

"Tomorrow should be a sprint stage," he said. "So I hope to take the jersey to Sicily and see what happens."

We will certainly all be watching, Mathieu.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.