Sports director Christoph Roodhooft of Alpecin-Fenix ​​thinks that the chance is small that Mathieu van der Poel can still make something of his season on the road.

The 26-year-old Alpecin-Fenix ​​rider will ride his first race since his fall at the Tokyo Olympics with the Antwerp Port Epic on Sunday.

"It is difficult to say how Mathieu is doing, because he has been off course for more than two months," Roodhooft said on Friday in the radio program

Bureau Sport

.

"If he still wants to make something of the World Cup or Paris-Roubaix, there is no more time to lose and that is why he wants to see how his back is doing in competition. He is anything but recovered."

Van der Poel has been struggling with back problems for some time.

His hard fall in the Olympic mountain bike race at the end of July exacerbated that injury, which meant that he was unable to train for some time and withdrew from the World Championship mountain bike and the Benelux Tour.

The Dutchman can start on Sunday in the Antwerp Port Epic.

After that Belgian one-day race over quite a few cobblestone sections, it is looked at what his program will look like for the rest of the season.

It is also possible that Van der Poel's season is already over after that.

"If it really doesn't go well on Sunday, there aren't many other options: it's over and out," said Roodhooft.

"There is still a small chance to make something of the season and, for example, still participate in Paris-Roubaix, in the context of next year."

'Nagging pain is constantly present'

According to the sports director, Van der Poel still suffers from his back.

"That nagging pain and that annoying feeling on and off the bike is constantly present. It's always up and down and nobody can put their finger on it, so it's very annoying."

It is therefore also uncertain whether Van der Poel will be able to participate in the World Cycling Championships in Belgium on September 26.

Roodhooft expects that the chance that his pupil will appear at the start in that competition is small.

"I still remain careful. If his back is sensitive during training," said the Belgian.

"A match is something else and a World Cup is very different from Sunday's race. Caution and realism are required."

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