Raymond Poulidor has said it's a "great shame" that his grandson Mathieu van der Poel will not race Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, with his Corendon-Circus team not receiving a wildcard invitation to the race. Van der Poel, however, does not agree with his famous grandfather, and is looking ahead instead to Amstel Gold Race a week later.
Poulidor, who was known as the 'eternal second' for finishing on the podium of the Tour de France eight times in the 1960s and 1970s, said Van der Poel has been so impressive in his debut spring classics campaign that he could have been competitive at Roubaix on Sunday.
The 24-year-old won Dwars door Vlaanderen and the GP de Denain, along with stages at both the Tour of Antalya and Circuit de la Sarthe. He finished fourth at Gent-Wevelgem and then fourth at the Tour of Flanders last weekend after fighting back from a nasty crash.
"I saw Mathieu in the Tour of Flanders. It was more than impressive. Without his crash, he would have absolutely won Flanders. Absolutely,” Poulidor told Het Nieuwsblad.
"It's a great shame that he doesn't do Roubaix. In this form, with his exceptional qualities, he really could have done something."
Corendon-Circus did not get a wildcard for 'The Hell of the North', as they had said that Van der Poel would not ride it anyway. The team have their eye on the Amstel Gold Race, where they can present the Dutch road champion on home roads.
Van der Poel himsel said that he will not watch Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, and said he understood that "some people think it is a shame" that he is not riding. But there are good reasons, he insisted.
"Finishing fourth in Flanders does not automatically mean you'll do the same in Roubaix," he said. "Secondly, it's great that I can start as a Dutch champion at Amstel. Thirdly, if we had added Roubaix, we would never have been able to fully prepare for it. I didn't want that myself either.
"That's why I'm really at peace with this program. And I also like that I have something that I can look forward to next year."
Indeed, a Van der Poel debut at Paris-Roubaix looks certain next year, with ASO director Christian Prudhomme already hinting his team will be assured a wildcard.