Why Van Poppel is not at all worried about Roglic (and we better keep an eye on Welsford on Wednesday) Cycling

Why Van Poppel is not at all worried about Roglic (and we better keep an eye on Welsford on Wednesday)

Why Van Poppel is not at all worried about Roglic (and we better keep an eye on Welsford on Wednesday)

Danny van Poppel is keen on being a lead-out, but has increasingly adapted to a very diverse range of responsibilities at BORA-hansgrohe. The 30-year-old often sprinted for himself in 2023 (winning Rund um Köln), delivered magnificent lead-outs where he led sprinters to victories, and in 2024, he takes on another vital role: protector of Primoz Roglic.

The cycling season is only two months in, but Van Poppel has already experienced a variety of things. In the Tour Down Under, he guided Sam Welsford to two stage wins, provided lead-outs for the Australian in the UAE Tour, and in Paris-Nice, he combined his role for Roglic with that of a sprinter in bunch sprints. Last Saturday, he was also at the start of Milan-San Remo, wearing number 31 on his back. "Number 1 on a jersey usually means something, but not now. We didn’t have a specific leader for Milan-San Remo, so we are giving some guys a chance, and I was one of them," Van Poppel said with a laugh in an interview with IDLProCycling.com.

Eventually, it was the Italian Matteo Sobrero who secured the best result for BORA, finishing twelfth. Van Poppel himself finished 101st. "Every year I think this race should suit me and I am hopeful, but I’ve never really performed well there. We tried a different training this time around, pushing harder towards San Remo. Hopefully, that will have a good effect on Saturday. Between Paris-Nice and San Remo, you always need to rest, but also keep going. That combination is quite tricky. Maybe in other years, I did too little, so my body switched off. Now we tried something different, hopefully, it will pay off," he said beforehand.

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Why Van Poppel is not at all worried about Roglic (and we better keep an eye on Welsford on Wednesday)
Van Poppel (far left) in Paris-Nice

Van Poppel very happy with Roglic and Welsford

It didn’t quite work out for him personally, but that was no issue. Van Poppel can do a bit of what he wants because BORA-hansgrohe knows that the Dutchman delivers when needed. Like he did in Paris-Nice, the first race for Van Poppel with his upcoming Tour de France leader Roglic. "It was great. I know Roglic from my Jumbo days. He's a super relaxed guy. He plays it down, but is super professional. I like that, someone who gives their all and lives a hundred percent for their profession. It makes the people helping you even more motivated. We’re not worried about his tenth place in the overall standings, especially since he stays calm himself. It was his first race for a new team, and he did his best. That’s all you can do. The long term, this summer, is the big goal."

That is precisely why Van Poppel also enjoys riding for Welsford. The Australian, who transferred from dsm-firmenich PostNL, has stood up when needed. "I talk to Sam now and then, not because I have to, but out of interest in how he’s doing. He’s new to cycling and is now doing a solid training block towards the classics and the Giro. Should you keep an eye on him in Brugge-De Panne? Yes, sprinting there is indeed the big goal of the team."

So, Van Poppel will be doing a lead-out again on Wednesday, and perhaps we will see the Dutchman score a top ten in the Flemish races as well. "The variety also makes it fun. I’m going to do some classics with Welsford, but this is a period with not many sprint races. But then comes Turkey and the Giro, and there will be plenty of lead-outs. That’s really where my heart is, in sprinting. It does require a mental switch, though. But that also keeps you fresh. Sometimes I race for myself, sometimes I help Primoz, and later I can be a lead-out."

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