Mathieu van der Poel will begin his build-up to the Olympic Games with the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, which begins on February 25. Van der Poel indicated his desire to target the Olympic Games in Rio earlier this month.
The announcement came off the back of a disappointing outing at the Cyclo-cross World Championships that saw him lose his title to Wout Van Aert at the end of last month. It is the first venture into the discipline for the former world champion. Following a truncated cyclo-cross season due to a knee injury, Van der Poel is keen to get more racing into his legs.
“Because of this knee injury I needed to rest in the beginning of the season. I definitely do not feel burned out,” Van der Poel told the website Veldritkrant.be.
To qualify for the Olympic Games, Van der Poel must make the top six in a World Cup race at least once or take two top 12 placings. There will be plenty of opportunity for the 21-year-old to make his mark with the World Cup competition beginning in April and holding a total of eight rounds before Rio. Qualification is only one hurdle and he still must impress the selectors to take one of the two slots available for the Netherlands.
“It's not an easy task," admits Van der Poel. "But it is not impossible, otherwise I would not embark on such an adventure. These Olympics are something special. I would love to be there and I will therefore do everything to qualify.”
The Cyprus Sunshine Cup runs between February 25 to 28.