Mathieu van der Poel has cycling success in his genes. Raymond Poulidor was his grandfather and Adrie van der Poel is his father. Adrie and Mathieu are very similar, cyclocross background and a similar look on a road bike. Adrie was at home watching his son win the Strade Bianche on TV: “If he continues to ride his races and doesn’t do too much, Mathieu can maintain this form for another five or six weeks,” he told Youri Ijnsen of WielerFlits.
Impressive attack form Mathieu in Strade Bianche
“I followed it in fits and starts in the afternoon, I had a lot of work to do at home. At the crucial points, David (Mathieu’s brother) called me in, then I had a look. When it was quieter again, I went back into the garden. It was such beautiful weather. And it had to happen, because otherwise it would not happen again (with all the hustle and bustle around the spring races ahead). But I was never far away. Actually, I followed the final, but always without sound.”
The full cycling family
Adrie noticed a number of things in the Strade Bianche finalé. “I saw that Mathieu was very good. He could easily follow the better riders, but of course it is never easy. You know then that he is explosive enough. Those climbs aren’t long, are they? Once you are at the top, you can recover somewhat. This course is about the number of watts you pedal per kilo. If you are a bit lighter like Julian Alaphilippe and Tom Pidcock, you can last longer. But on those short slopes, good classic riders can do that too. In the past, just look at Wout van Aert, Fabian Cancellara, Michał Kwiatkowski and Zdeněk Štybar.”
Adrie wasn’t too shabby at cross
Adrie wasn’t sure of the tactics of the Alpecin-Fenix team. “I myself would have designated Alaphilippe as a favourite, if they had raced to the finish line in pairs or in a small group. But you saw with Alaphilippe was off his best. If he is good, he will either ride full or try something. That was clearly not the case. In the end, the Frenchman must have thought: ‘Then I am nice with two or three here.’ Egan Bernal did the same. On that last wall towards Piazza del Campo you could see that they had no answer to Mathieu’s acceleration.”
Alaphilippe and Bernal couldn’t hold Mathieu in the finalé
Father and son hadn’t spoken to each other by Saturday evening when he spoke to Youri of WielerFlits. “On Sunday I will call him at my leisure. With the team, they should also enjoy the success that they have already achieved at the beginning of the year. It’s early March and they’ve already won three times, with Strade Bianche as the icing on the cake for now. You should cherish those moments. I can wait a while. Of course I congratulated him via a WhatsApp message and had some contact via there. I told him to enjoy it himself. Victories like this are only for a few riders.”
Father and son
“He has the potential to win every classic. I actually had those myself in my time, but I didn’t win them all.” Van der Poel senior won the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Amstel Gold Race and the Clásica San Sebastián in his time. “I did send him a message on Saturday. “Boy, enjoy it. If you can do all of this, I would have been just a bum. I like that. I really appreciate Mathieu’s way of racing. What others think of that leaves us a little cold – whether he’s stupid or smart. It is fun for the public to watch. But then you have to win now and then.”
Flanders win No. 1
The Dutch road champion and World cyclocross champion, Van der Poel, won the opening stage of the UAE Tour, then rode very well in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Le Samyn. “Mathieu ended last year well. He started the winter with a good morality, did everything on time and took his rest, last year he trained incorrectly in the run-up to the resumption of the corona season and did not reach its best level in Strade Bianche and other races. That is not going to happen to him again,” said his father.
Adrie leading the peloton
So what next for the younger Van der Poel? Sanremo, Roubaix? “You often come across the same names in those races. You could say that Matje is slightly above, because he has already won twice (this year). The difference compared to the competition is in the details. Perhaps Alpecin-Fenix can now race a bit more calmly, because the pressure is less. While the same pressure is somewhat greater among the competitors. Most teams continue to do their own thing and so do we. We also take our responsibility if we have to.”
Grandfather and father
When asked where these performances stop, Adrie joked “After Paris-Roubaix. Mathieu’s best years are yet to come. I also told him: if he is going to do a real altitude training camp with many kilometres uphill, it will make him even better. I mean long cols. I don’t know if it’s his ambition. That is not necessary for me. But you never know how it will turn out. It is good for himself, I think. For the rest, there is little to criticise how the team puts together its training sessions and how Mathieu completes them. In the form he has now, he can also handle races such as Liège and Lombardy.”
Adrie in Tour KOM
“In his current condition, he can also triumph in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He was very close last year. But he must remain calm and, above all, not want everything in one year. He must try to be good in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Win: yes, you can. But you can also not win. As long as he races how he wants to race, like Saturday. Then I guess you won’t hear anyone complain. Or participation in the Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège is excluded? I think so. Mathieu will then take a break and work towards the Mountain Bike World Cups in May,” said the proud father.
Peas in a pod
# Big thanks to Youri Ijnsen and WielerFlits for allowing us to use his quotes.