Fans watching the Soudal Classics Masters and the last weekend of cyclocross racing most likely noticed the absence of one Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus). After all, after winning Worlds, Van der Poel extended his winning streak to over three months with wins at his Middlekerke and Hulst season finales.
What does one do to celebrate wrapping up one of the greatest seasons in the sport’s history? Apparently hop on a plane to Turkey to race the four-stage Tour of Antalya road race with his Corendon – Circus team. A change, no doubt, but with the spring-like temperatures in Belgium right now, maybe it was not that big of a change-up.
The Tour of Antalya marks the start of an ambitious year for the three-discipline star.
Van der Poel’s team has received wild-card bids for a number of Spring Classics races, and he will be joining his team for several of them, including the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold race. The first on his schedule is the Nokere Koerse on March 20, so he does have a small break after the weekend in Turkey.
After a whirlwind spring, Van der Poel’s focus will shift to the UCI XCO Mountain Bike World Cups, where he will be looking to continue the success he had last season, finishing second overall in the World Cup and third at XCO Worlds and maybe give fellow superstar Nino Schurter a run for his money.
When he left the cyclocross dirt and headed to the road, Van der Poel had not not won a race since his poor performance at the Koppenbergcross on November 1, 2018. Van der Poel went on to complete one of the most impressive seasons in the sport’s history, winning 32 UCI races, including the European Championship, Dutch National Championship and his second career Elite World Championship in Denmark.
With road races being more unpredictable and a split-second making the difference in sprint finishes, there is no way Van der Poel could continue his winning streak in Turkey, right?
Well, this is Mathieu van der Poel we are talking about. The Dutch star won his 27th-straight race on Thursday when he sprinted to a Stage 1 win and the lead in the Tour’s General Classification.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and on Friday at Stage 2, Van der Poel’s 27-race winning streak came to an end. He finished 12th in the Stage 2 group finish and then finished four minutes back in Saturday’s Queen stage.
Van der Poel went on to finish 64th in the Tour of Antalya GC. Szymon Rekita of Leopard Pro Cycling won the four-day General Classification.
Can’t win them all, we guess.
Stay tuned for much more from the spring road season. With Wout van Aert kicking off his Spring Classics campaign this weekend at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, we will be on full Wout Watch and Mathieu Monitoring (?) Poel Position (??) for the next few months.
Featured image: Elisa Haumesser