Mathieu van Der Poel has gone close to becoming road World Champion once before but he fears time is not on his side as he chases his rainbow dream.
On Sunday in the elite men’s road race at the World Championships 2022, the Dutch rider will look to better his 2021 finishing position when he came eighth behind Julian Alaphilippe in Leuven, Belgium.
According to Wielerflits (opens in new tab), the grandson of cycling legend Raymond Poulidor fears time is not on his side as he attempts to win the rainbow jersey again this weekend.
He said: “I am also getting older every day now, the chances of grabbing that rainbow jersey are getting smaller every year.”
Although with that said, Van der Poel will no doubt be glad to know that in reality what he fears most is completely unfounded. This is because since its inception, 39 winners of the rainbow jersey have been in fact aged 28-years-old and above. Moreover, Spain’s Alejandro Valverde was 38 when he won the hallowed rainbow bands in Innsbruck, Switzerland in 2018.
The Dutch rider has proven himself as being in solid form ahead of Sunday’s race in Wollongong. Before flying to Australia, the 27-year-old took a resounding victory at the GP de Wallonie race in Belgium holding off Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar) in a steep uphill kick to the line.
"THE CHANCES OF GRABBING THAT RAINBOW JERSEY ARE GETTING SMALLER"
His display in Belgium proved that despite a break from racing, Van der Poel is still very much a ‘spring chicken’ and far from being the ageing pro of yesteryear still hoping for a shot at glory.
Earlier this year Van der Poel won the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia in impressive style and then held the maglia rosa for three stages. In the following months he lost form and admitted at the Tour de France that he couldn’t put his finger on the issue that was troubling him.
However, the Dutch star explained that so far so good in recent weeks and that he’s ready for Sunday's showdown with his long standing rival Wout van Aert.
“I did everything I could to be in shape for this World Championships. I know my body well, but in the Tour we also saw that it is not an exact science,” he said.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way and the human body is not a machine. It can sometimes be difficult, but I do feel that I am good. Otherwise I would not have travelled. You never know if it’s enough for Sunday but I will go for it."
If Van der Poel’s words are anything to go by then he has cancelled his premature zimmer frame order, put his slippers back in his wardrobe and is now more than ready for a shot at World Championship glory.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1