Mathieu van der Poel understands that on Sunday his debut in the Amstel Gold Race he will immediately be put forward as one of the favorites. The 24-year-old cyclist, however, thinks it is going too far to label himself as the top favorite.
The Dutch champion on the road and in the field already made a big impression this spring with a win in Dwars door Vlaanderen and a fourth place in the Tour of Flanders. On Wednesday, he also won the first hill classic of the season with the Brabant Arrow.
Van der Poel is therefore not surprised that at the only spring classic on Dutch soil all eyes will be on him. "I would not call myself a top favorite, but I can agree with that," he says to Sporza at a press event from his team Corendon-Circus on Thursday.
"There are riders in the peloton who have already proven more. And they are not going to let me ride anymore. So it will be a difficult race."
Van der Poel beats Alaphilippe, Wellens and Matthews in the Brabantse Pijl. (Photo: VI Images)
"Alaphilippe has made a great impression"
Van der Poel, who became cyclocross world champion for the second time in early February, is showing himself for the first time this season in the classic spring on the road. With his good performance, he has not only surprised most cycling fans, but also himself.
"I had hoped to be able to keep up with the rest in all classics, but to always ride such a good result is beyond my expectations. But the success of my spring does not mean that I am lax with the Amstel Gold Race This is also one of my main goals. "
Van der Poel sees Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe and Belgians Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert as his biggest competitors in the Limburg hills. "Alaphilippe in particular impressed me. I think he is currently the best rider in the peloton. It's nice that you can compete against such a rider."
Van der Poel lets large teams wait
With his victories on the road, Van der Poel has attracted the attention of large cycling teams. Successful formation Deceuninck-Quick-Step from manager Patrick Lefevere is fishing for the services of the Dutchman.
"Patrick knows my father well", he refers to Adri van der Poel, winner of the Amstel Gold Race in 1990. "It is therefore logical that there has been contact. But I have informed all teams that they have to wait for the time being. I am still under contract with Corendon until 2023."
The Amstel Gold Race is currently the last road race for Van der Poel. He also wants to continue combining road cycling with cyclocross and mountain biking in the coming seasons. In the latter discipline, he hopes to be able to win a medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.