Final verdict: De Knegt disappointed: Van der Poel skips mountain biking this summer, but competes in Olympic road race and Tour de France Cycling

Final verdict: De Knegt disappointed: Van der Poel skips mountain biking this summer, but competes in Olympic road race and Tour de France

Final verdict: De Knegt disappointed: Van der Poel skips mountain biking this summer, but competes in Olympic road race and Tour de France

After much anticipation, the die has been cast. Mathieu van der Poel has laid out his plans for the summer, making some tough choices. The world champion will skip his beloved mountain biking to focus on the Olympic road race and the Tour de France.

A press release provided further details about his decisions. "It's the most sensible choice. It allows me more time to prepare longer and better," explained the 29-year-old Dutch athlete. There were many questions about whether he would participate in the Olympic mountain bike event. It’s a discipline MVdP loves, and he already had a spot secured. Additionally, the course seemed tailor-made for Van der Poel, who acknowledged that it was indeed a difficult puzzle to solve.

Will Van der Poel then switch to mountain biking for the Los Angeles Olympics?

"Just the road race? Only mountain biking? Or both?", the release reads. "Whether or not combined with the Tour de France, which I personally consider the best possible preparation for the Olympics." Ultimately, the decision has been made and Van der Poel will skip mountain biking and instead ride the road race in Paris, in conjunction with the Tour de France. "Let's just say I've chosen the most logical option. My first half of the season was already quite long, starting with the cyclo-cross season. After a short break, I resumed training for the spring and continued that campaign through to Liège-Bastogne-Liège. If I now want to fully focus on mountain biking and be perfectly prepared, I would need to start next weekend in Nove Mesto, the Czech round of the MTB World Cup."

"In consultation with the team, I've opted for a slightly longer rest period, after which I can prepare for the Tour de France and the Olympic road race without any time pressure," the phenomenon concludes. "And mountain biking? Who knows what might be possible in 2028 in Los Angeles? That's still a long way off, but I'll be at a different stage in my career by then. Maybe then I can devote myself entirely to mountain biking. This year, the combination is just too difficult. The fact that I'm currently riding in the rainbow jersey also played a role indirectly. It’s a special year. As the world champion, I like to wear that jersey as much as possible. So I'd also prefer not to miss the Tour de France. And last year, it proved to be a good preparation for the world championships."

Superduo Van der Poel-Philipsen reunited for Tour de France

Van der Poel, meanwhile, has resumed training in Spain. No competitions are scheduled before the Tour. "I'll head to a high-altitude training camp in La Plagne a week later than the rest of our Tour squad. After that, I'll complete some individual training sessions until the Tour starts in Florence. We've gained enough experience to know that once I'm in competition, I quickly get into good shape. In the Tour, I hope to support my teammate Jasper Philipsen again in his quest for stage wins and possibly the green jersey. And my goal is to win a stage myself this year. Last year, I fell ill just as several opportunities arose. Hopefully, I'll avoid that in this edition."

The schedule for 'the Flame from Ham' has also been announced. Along with the Dutch world champion, he will ride the Tour de France, though the Flemish top sprinter has some preparatory races lined up. Philipsen will participate in the Baloise Belgium Tour (June 12-16) followed by the Belgian Championship (June 23). La Grande Boucle then starts on June 29.

National Coach De Knegt disappointed by Van der Poel's choices, but understands

KNWU national coach Gerben de Knegt has expressed his disappointment with Van der Poel's choices in a statement to NOS. "It's very unfortunate, but understandable," admits the North Brabant native. "Doing both carries a risk. It could end up being nothing twice. And we know by now that when he fully focuses on something, he is often successful."

"It's really a copy-paste," De Knegt concludes, referring to the fact that Van der Poel's choice of combination is similar to 2023. "Mountain biking is a bit more challenging, and it's been a while since he's done it. There are very few who can manage both. Yes, one other person, Tom Pidcock. But between the two, Pidcock has won fewer major road races and has had more success on the mountain bike. Regardless, it's a pity. It's his own decision. He has told me that he definitely plans to return to mountain biking in the future."

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