The Flying Dutchman wants to mix cyclo-cross, mountain bike and road for the foreseeable future - all time great, or will the lack of focus on one discipline affect his results?
The Star of Team Alpecin-Fenix has said that he will continue to ride multiple disciplines until the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Van der Poel is the current cyclo-cross world champion, having successfully defended his title earlier this year in Dübendorf, Switzerland. He also holds the European cross-country mountain bike title, and was targeting the cross-country race at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before the event was postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Last season, Van der Poel rode a number of road races too, with one of the most amazing Amstel Gold Race Wins we’ve ever seen, as well as racing Dwars door Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl in the spring, before winning the Tour of Britain later in the year. The 25-year-old was due to make his Paris-Roubaix debut this year before switching focus to the mountain bike in the summer.
"I want to continue to combine the three disciplines, As it looks now, I'll stay on the mountain bike until Paris. That also gives me an extra three years to try to become world champion in that discipline. I really love mountain biking."
Van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team had hoped for a Vuelta a España invite this season, a race which would've been his Grand Tour debut before race director Javier Guillén ended that idea late last year.
The team had tried for a place at the rescheduled Tour de France, too, but it looks like the Dutchman will have to wait until 2021 to make his debut at a three-week race.
"Normally, the focus would have moved very quickly to the Grand Tours, to try to ride a Grand Tour for two to three years," Van der Poel said. "Then I can switch back to mountain biking and ride some more World Cups in between which can be combined with a Grand Tour. That way I can stay at the top of the ranking"
"The uniqueness of what I do, combining mountain biking, road cycling and cyclo-cross – I want to try to keep that up for as long as possible."
For a multi-talented rider to make the switch between disciplines is not unheard of. Fuglsang, Ryder Hesjedal, Cadel Evans, and Super Sagan all used to ride MTB - and their bike-handling skills are no doubt better for it. However we’re not sure we’ve seen many riders successfully ride a multi-discipline season to great success.
Will trying to race in such a way mean he doesn’t achieve all-out success in one of the disciplines, or will he just prove he is an all time great and do it all? He has more than proved his potential with his current palmarés, so with a rider as clearly talented as MVDP, there will surely be a push by the big road teams to sign him up and have him ride a full season on the road.
At 25, it could be said the next 5-10 years would be his most productive as a rider. If he continues with his plan up to the Paris Olympics, that will place him at 29. Will the lure of the big road money change his mind?
An illuminating rider that enlivens any race he enters. As road racing fans, we love to see him on the road and hopefully ride a full season of classics and a Grand Tour or two, and maybe we will see that sometimes soon.
It seems his goals could be to achieve World-Champ status in Cyclo-Cross, MTB and on the Road, surely making him one of the most talented people on two-wheels? We just love the fact he is doing his own thing, he clearly just likes riding his bike.
We look forward to watching him over the coming seasons.