For the last 30 years, when cycling fans would hear the name "van der Poel" their thoughts immediately turned to Adrie van der Poel, a steady force in the 1980s and '90s in both road and cyclo-cross racing. His road victories include the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold, and stages in Tour of France. While in cyclo-cross, he has proven himself to be one of the most victorious 'crossers ever, with his greatest success a World Championship in 1996.
But as of two years ago, the name "van der Poel" has begun to take on a new reference, namely that of David van der Poel, Adrie's son. In only his second year of top level competition in the Junior division, 17-year-old David (Isorex Cycling Team) has been dominating the races. Of his 16 Internationally-ranked events this season, he has landed on the podium 15 times, including 10 victories. The one event where he missed the podium, he placed fourth. He is currently leading the UCI International classification by a significantly large margin, which is marked improvement over his last year's final ranking of 15th.
"It has been a great season for me so far," said the junior van der Poel to Cyclingnews. "I didn't expect it to be so good so I am really happy with my results."
"It feels really good. I like the attention people give you when you win. And the feeling when you cross the line is indescribable."
When asked if his dad had nudged him to be a cyclist, David said, "No. Not at all. When I was a kid, I liked to ride a bike. But I also played tennis and soccer. I was always busy with sports. But two years ago, I had to decide on one sport because I wasn't able to combine them all with high school where I study every day from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. My decision was to go with cycling because I thought I would be able to go the farthest in this sport. And I just like it better than the others."
Once David chose the bike, his dad offered his full support. "Of course he helps me a lot – gives me lots of advice. He knows a lot so it's good for me."
David's next event is World Championships this Sunday in Tabor, Czech Republic, where he is gunning for a win. "I think it will be icy with a lot of snow, so that should be good for me – it's quite technical. It will be a strange 'cross because World Championships are always a little bit crazy - especially in these conditions. I also think the riders who were in front in the big races, will again be in front there," said David. Three weeks ago, David claimed the Dutch National Championship title on a course similar to what is expected in Tabor, proving that he is indeed a favorite going into the big race.
In September, David will upgrade to the Under 23 category. Keeping his ambitions in check, he surmises, "Now I am one of the oldest riders and next year I will be one of the youngest, so it will be a big change for me. But if I keep training like this I think I will be able to do it well."
His dream is to follow in the footsteps of his dad. "He was quite successful. It would make me happy to also have cycling as my job. I can only hope I would be as good as he was," said David. When asked what it's like for the announcers to repeatedly say that he is the son of Adrie van der Poel, he quickly responds, "I am a little bit proud. I think it's normal."