Team goes all-out for 'world class leader' Van der Poel: "Van Aert might have watched it with dismay" Cycling

Team goes all-out for 'world class leader' Van der Poel: "Van Aert might have watched it with dismay"

Team goes all-out for 'world class leader' Van der Poel: "Van Aert might have watched it with dismay"

At this year’s Tour of Flanders, Mathieu van der Poel was - as expected - in a league of his own. The world champion, riding for Alpecin-Deceuninck, left his competitors in the dust 50 kilometers from the finish line, and they didn’t catch a glimpse of him again until after the race. was there in Belgium and records the story from several people in the Van der Poel camp!

First, the cycling journalists present headed towards father Adrie van der Poel, who won the Tour of Flanders himself in 1986. "We couldn't be happier," begins the 64-year-old Dutchman. The High Mass triumph of his son was his third victory in perhaps the most important spring classic of all. "This was the hardest one to win on paper," Adrie answers when asked. "After all, all the pressure was already on the team."

"The race couldn't have gone better," says Adrie van der Poel

Van der Poel senior saw that the entire Alpecin-Deceuninck team was firing on all cylinders. "They really stepped up to the plate. Maybe the weather conditions helped a bit. But ultimately, I think we should be happy. Let me put it this way: the race couldn't have gone better. The guys did what they could and had to do."

And so, it's celebration time in the Van der Poel household. "It’s a beautiful moment, something Mathieu can savor," says the North Brabant native, who then briefly discusses his son's exceptional form. "In the E3 Saxo Classic and Gent-Wevelgem, he already showed that his condition is good. And then on a day like this here, everything needs to go right."

Adrie van der Poel on the absence of Van Aert and Stuyven

Adrie also touches on the absence of Wout van Aert. The Belgian from Visma | Lease a Bike has been Van der Poel's archrival for years. There was an expectation that this Sunday afternoon would be no different. "Wout was normally seen as the biggest opponent," admits Van der Poel Sr. "He might have watched it with dismay. It's really a pity he wasn't there. On the other hand, I also think that there's enough quality in that team to compete as well. Lidl-Trek was also a bit battered, with the loss of Jasper Stuyven. Ultimately, you can somewhat compensate that with the responsibility Mathieu took."

Then there's Gianni Vermeersch, the rider (and former world champion in gravel) who was seen leading the race at one point with Mads Pedersen. "I'm standing here with a fantastic feeling," beams the Flemish rider, who was (understandably) shivering from the cold during the interview. "With the team, we rode a perfect race. We had it under control all day. And Mathieu is fantastic. He finished it off perfectly."

Read more below the photo!

mathieu van der poel
Van der Poel sealed it with a stunning solo in the Tour of Flanders

Vermeersch observed the collective strength of Alpecin-Deceuninck, Roodhooft remained cautious

"We really had a good day," Vermeersch stresses the strength of the Alpecin-Deceuninck guys. "From all sides, there was essentially an attempt to make it difficult for us. The Visma | Lease a Bike guys tried to break it open very early. But from then on, we always had a guy involved."

This collective strength was also mentioned in the interview that team boss Christoph Roodhooft gave afterwards. "The lead was obviously quite large, but with those wet roads, you never know," said the Flemish manager in his race analysis. So, there was certainly no immediate certainty from the team car. "You also continue to consider a worst-case scenario. It was also a very tough race, so cramps or a slump could always appear. We try to stay alert together until the end."

Roodhooft labels Van der Poel as a world class leader and discusses the strength of his team

Roodhooft also agrees that the team relied on its own strength. "We had thoroughly discussed how we thought the other teams were going to act. Then we formed our own idea of it. It obviously depends on Mathieu's individual strength, but as a team, we did not falter either. Mathieu is of course a world-class leader."

In short, many praises for the teammates of the world champion. And this while there was actually quite some doubt about the team over the past week. "We have a boatload of analysts and columnists. After a while, it probably becomes difficult for those people to remain original," Roodhooft says about this. "I find it regrettable that our team was questioned in the days leading up to the Tour. When you see which seven names we had at the start... Fortunately, there were others who had analyzed it correctly. I think the race has proven afterwards that we were certainly strong enough."

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