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.
While he has yet to race a Grand Tour, his team are in hot pursuit of an invitation to a three-week race and Van der Poel’s superstar status will guarantee their inclusion soon enough. The Dutchman has hinted he might like to make his Tour de France in 2021, with the Olympics in Tokyo forming one of his main goals this year and the French Grand Tour finishing too close to the cycling events in Japan.
In 2020, Van der Poel will likely make his debut at Strade Bianche, Milan – San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.