Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel wins Strade Bianche 2021 (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Nationality: Dutch

Date of Birth: January 19, 1995

Team: Alpecin-Fenix

Twitter: @mathieuvdpoel (opens in new tab)

Instagram: @mathieuvanderpoel (opens in new tab)

Mathieu van der Poel spearheads the extraordinary talent of the younger generation. A rider of pedigree, being the third generation of professional racers in his family, Van der Poel has dominated the cyclocross discipline since be began racing and his transition to the road saw him win four one-day races in 2019 as well as the Tour of Britain overall.

Van der Poel is the grandson of late Tour de France legend Raymond Poulidor and the son of cyclocross and Classics Star Adrie van der Poel, so expectations were always high.

Whilst new to the highest level races on the road, his escapades in MTB and ‘cross have seen him victorious in four cyclocross World Championships at both the junior and senior level. His raw power, allied with the distinctive bike position and prodigious handling skills, has led to a dominance not seen since Sven Nys.

Alongside World Championships, he has taken overall titles in the Superprestige and UCI World Cup. From the Koppenbergcross in 2018 to the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Hotondcross in November 2019, he won 35 consecutive races, with the streak only being broken by the Belgian Toon Aerts.

As the natural leader of Alpecin-Fenix (formerly Corendon-Circus), his 2019 road season saw a flurry of wins and phenomenal races. Stage wins in the Arctic Race of Norway, the Tour of Antalya and the overall at the Tour of Britain were obvious displays of strength.

However, it was his win at the Amstel Gold Race that laid down the gauntlet. Without support, he reeled back Julian Alaphilippe, Michał Kwiatkowski and Jakob Fuglsang in the final kilometres before outsprinting a world-class chase group.

With the Yorkshire course at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships suiting Van der Poel's attributes, the Dutchman was given a good chance of adding a rainbow jersey from the road to his cyclo-cross ones.

Having made the front group with 33km to go, Van der Poel then cracked, dropping out of the group suddenly and eventually finishing 11 minutes behind Danish winner Mads Pedersen.

After a short break, Van der Poel readied himself for the winter cyclo-cross season. He won his first race back and went on to secure many more victories. However, on December 14 he was beaten in a cyclocross race for the first time in 408 days.

Committed to a contract until 2023, he secures Alpecin-Fenix invites to the biggest races in the world. However, without any domestiques for support, there remain questions as to the level that Van der Poel can dominate the road the same way he has captured other disciplines.

In 2020, Van der Poel showed he was one of the best riders around with yet more big victories.

After taking his second Dutch road race title, Van der Poel took his first monument victory at the Tour of Flanders beating main rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in a two-up sprint with a photo finish needed to split the two after Alaphilippe crashed out of the leading group due to riding into a motorbike.

Along with his first monument, Van der Poel managed to take the final stage and overall victory at the BinckBank Tour with an incredible solo ride that saw him attack with 47km to go to take the overall title.

He also made his debut at Tirreno-Adriatico where he won the penultimate stage to Loreto from a breakaway, catching Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the final 100 metres as well as helping team-mate, Tim Merlier, to a bunch sprint victory.

Van der Poel also managed a very impressive 10th place at Il Lombardia but disappointed at Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche where he finished 13th and 15th.

His Classics season was solid, albeit with just the Ronde as a win, taking 2nd at Brabantse Pijl, 6th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and 9th at Gent-Wevelgem.

The 2021 season started off with a bang for Van der Poel, after retaining his world title in cyclo-cross, the Dutch star went to the UAE Tour and immediately found success with a win on stage one in a reduced sprint after making the lead group in the cross winds.

The day after, though, the whole Alpecin-Fenix team had to leave the race due to a staff member testing positive for Covid-19, so Van der Poel never got to race in the leader's jersey.

The next weekend saw him make his return to racing, this time on the cobbles of Belgium with a very active ride at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne where he attacked with 85km to go with Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers), only to be caught with just over a kilometre to go.

He then went to support Merlier at Le Samyn that saw him follow multiple attacks before his handlebars broke, he then did all he could on the front of the peloton before finishing 37th behind eventual winner, Merlier.

It was then the first big Classic of the season, and Van der Poel's second appearance at Strade Bianche, after a disappointing 15th in 2020 due to punctures, he was hoping for more in 2021.

It definitely came, attack three times in the classing 20km with two vicious race defining attacks on the final gravel section of Le Tolfe, where he dropped everyone with only Alaphilippe and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) able to get across, and on the final climb into Siena where he left everyone behind to take the win.

Van der Poel is down to make his Grand Tour debut at the Tour de France in 2021 where he will likely be in the running for the green jersey as well as maybe seeing how far he can get in the GC after completing a full Classics campaign.

The Dutch champion said he will race the Classics then prepare for the Tour de France on the mountain bike as he prepares to race the cross-country event at the Olympic Games in Tokyo soon after the Tour.