Van Poppel siblings poised for debut with Trek Factory Racing
Andy and Fränk Schleck are not the only brothers that Trek Factory Racing presented in Roubaix today, the pair of Luxembourgers are now joined by two Dutch siblings: Danny and Boy van Poppel.
Manager Luca Guercilena named Danny van Poppel as most exciting young rider in the Trek team. "I am happy to be here," the youngest of the two Van Poppel brothers told Cyclingnews at the team launch. "But I am also very happy that the team see that Boy is a very good rider too."
Boy is the eldest of the two sons of multiple Tour de France stage winner Jean Paul van Poppel. After four years with the Rabobank Development Team, he moved to the United States for a two-year contract with Unitedhealthcare.
"Dirk Demol and Alain Gallopin, my sports directors at Trek, already saw me in the Tour of Britain in 2012 where I won the points' jersey. The fact they followed my progress throughout that year, and last year in the Tour de France with Vacansoleil-DCM, and that Trek also chose me as a rider and not only as Danny's brother, feels really great."
"That was very important for me too," Danny adds. "I don't think we'll ever ride apart, in other teams I mean. I trust Boy 100 per cent when he does the lead-out. We live in the same village and we train together all the time. He knows exactly what I want and what I can do in a sprint. Riding as brothers really gives us an edge. But he also has qualities that I don't have like riding up hills fast and do a good sprint afterwards."
Luca Guercilena emphasized that Trek is very much interested in young riders. They signed four neo-pros, and have a total of six riders classified as neo in 2014. The team wants to pair them up with the big names to learn and gain experience but also offers riders such as Danny van Poppel and Belgian Classics talent Jasper Stuyven the opportunity to ride for themselves.
However, there is no Grand Tour in the cards for Danny van Poppel. He was the youngest debutant in last year's Tour de France since the World War II, and sprinted to a third place and a white jersey in the first stage.
"Yes, I was disappointed when I heard there won't be a Grand Tour for me this year. This is a different team though. They can win a Grand Tour, like the Tour, with the Schlecks. The fact that they are so careful with young riders is one of the reasons that I decided to ride for Trek. They have a lot of youngsters but are also very careful with those young riders. Plus there are not a lot of sprinters on the team either."
He is happy to have lost the youngest rider in the WorldTour label he held in 2013. Matej Mohoric (19), the U23 world champion takes over that role at Cannondale, but Van Poppel is still the youngest in the Trek team.
"It was fun at first to be named as youngest rider in the WorldTour but, in the end, I want to remembered for my results," he said.
Trek incorporated first year pro's like Jasper Stuyven, Fabio Silvestre, Eugenio Alafaci and Calvin Watson. Though Van Poppel is younger than the new signings he already has one year of racing at World Tour level under his belt. "The one thing I would tell the new guys for advice is that people like [Fabian] Cancellara or [Bradley] Wiggins are just like any other rider. Don't be intimidated. I roomed with Cancellara on the first training camp and he is just very normal."
Boy van Poppel is his brother's lead-out man but will get his own chances too as a sprinter on the rougher terrain. "I will ride a lot of races with Danny in the beginning starting at the Tour Down Under but just like I was with Vacansoleil-DCM I will be flexible too. I will hopefully do races like Paris-Nice and the Giro while Danny does some smaller races." The oldest of the brothers is very modest but he showed during the 2012 Tour of Britain he has the sprinter's mentality too.
"It's no problem sacrificing my chances for Danny in flat stages or races. I have 100% faith in him and know that he is a very strong sprinter. I know he can win and I can help him. Being his brother, you can go just that little bit further. But I will also tell the team when I feel good in a race and take my own chances when they come."