He is a 24-year-old boy, he comes from the north – from a land where cycling is at home – he’s called Mathieu and his last name is Van Der Poel.
Yes, just like that rider – Adrie Van Der Poel – who, in the 1990s, won a Tour of Flanders, a Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a Clásica San Sebastián, a world title in Cyclocross and two stages at the Tour De France. From his marriage with Corinne Poulidor, the daughter of the great Raymond Poulidor, comes the little Mathieu: simply a predestined one!
Today Mathieu Van Der Poel runs for the Corendon Circus, a Belgian cycling team with a Professional Continental licence, and has fun dispensing shows in three different disciplines: cyclo-cross, road cycling and mountain-biking. It’s as if in the body of the Dutch champion there were between different athletes, three champions, three absolute phenomena.
The 2019 season will most likely go down in history as the year of its official consecration in the world of cycling. Mathieu, in fact, has once again managed to amaze all his admirers and opponents. From January to today Pulidor’s nephew has managed to graduate, for the second time (the first was in 2015), Elite Cyclo-cross World Champion; he won one of the most important classic monuments, the Amstel Gold Race; he won also the Dwars Door Vlaanderen and, finally, he won the title of European Champion XCO – Mountain Bike. So, what else will come?
What is striking is the almost derisory simplicity with which Van Der Poel wins and, at the same time, gives show. We were used to Peter Sagan‘s circus numbers – let’s be clear, he’s still a champion and should not be diminished – and Chris Froome‘s record-breaking feats (4 Tour De France wins). But this Mathieu can take us to another galaxy; another way of living cycling.
Amstel Gold Race: Mathieu’s masterpiece
Let’s take the Amstel Gold Race, a race that has been won by many champions like: Eddy Merckx, Philippe Gilbert, Michal Kwiatkowski, Alexandre Vinokurov and Adrie Van Der Poel. Yes, that’s him, his dad, as if it were a sign of destiny. Mathieu wanted to win it in his own way; he had to leave his indelible mark here too.
When there are stil 30 kilometers to go, the Dutchman is about a minute late from the two leaders, Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang: not really the latest arrivals. In the middle Matteo Trentin (European champion) and that Kwiatkowski who had already won the race in 2015.
At a certain point something inhuman, something ingenious, snaps into Van Der Poel’s mind; his legs seem to perfectly follow his champion nature and start an incredible and legendary comeback. Something that we will remember for a long time! At least two minutes from the finish Mathieu arrives like a “locomotive” on the tread and, at double speed, overcomes them all and pulls straight to the finish line: there is no sprint, there is no hope. The show is served! Poulidor’s nephew wins the Amstel Gold Race 2019 as only the greats can do: giving a show!
However, to really understand what Van Der Poel is capable of, it is imperative to see him live at least once. It is essential to understand closely the world in which he lives: a galaxy made of apparent normality, but spoiled by the now obsessive need to always succeed. On every terrain – whether it’s road, mountain-bike or cyclocross – there’s only one imperative: to win and convince!
MVDP in Val Di Sole
The opportunity to see him live presented itself in Val Di Sole, the only Italian stage of the Mountain-bike World Cup. It was here, on one of the toughest routes on the world circuit, that Van Der Poel scored his second victory in the category and probably sent a clear message to legend Nino Schurter: “Your time is running out!“
Mathieu almost seemed to “play” with his rivals, both in Friday’s short-track and Saturday’s Cross-Country race. The climbs, even the toughest and most impervious, seemed to pass away as if they were bumps; each jump was the right opportunity to give a show and to allow fans to take some souvenir photos; the descent was the right opportunity to reiterate once again that, he, to the bike from the “you” showing a crazy technique. In fact, he is one with his Canyon.
The opponents seemed to “jump away” one by one as if they were skittles; he only administered the race with his loose and casual pedaling. The last one to raise the white flag is Nino Schurter. The world champion – as well as the reigning Olympic champion – has to give up to another fatal acceleration of the Dutch champion and therefore grants him the triumphant solo finish. Once again: the show is served!
No one knows exactly how far Mathieu Van Der Poel will get in his career: will he continue to do three disciplines? (difficult) Will he devote himself exclusively to the road? (as already done by Sagan) And, finally, cyclocross?
One thing is certain, Mathieu was born for the show and, whatever his choice will be, we will still hear about him. A sprint on the road, a stunt in the woods, a shot in the mud; the young Dutch champion is a predestined and, as such, will not disappoint all fans who every Sunday stop their lives for a few hours to admire his deeds.
Mathieu Van Der Poel is a heritage of modern cycling and, as such, should be exalted but at the same time protected. We all want it to be this way to continue to excite us on the couch, or on the street, and to continue to hope for a new star of the sport!