After his stunning Amstel Gold Race victory – and stunning debut spring Classics campaign in general – there's a lot of talk about what Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) can achieve in his career. In the long-term, there seem to be few limits, but in the short term, there's already a growing suspicion that he could take part in the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire in September and contend for the rainbow jersey.
A former world champion on the road as a junior, Van der Poel has focused on cyclo-cross and mountain biking in the early years of his career. With Amstel signalling the end of his first top-level spring on the road, those disciplines form the primary focus of the remainder of his 2019 plans.
However, such have been the 24-year-old's performances over the past few weeks – he also won Brabantse Pijl, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the GP de Denain, and finished fourth at the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem – people are already talking about him as a contender for this year's Worlds road race.
Among them is Koos Moerenhout, the Dutch national coach, who has already checked out the rolling Yorkshire course and was in the race organiser's car at Amstel.
“I have already been exploring Yorkshire. It's a course that suits Van der Poel perfectly. It should come as no surprise that I would like to have him there," Moerenhout told Dutch newspaper AD.
"If he goes to the World Championships, and is as perfectly prepared as he was for this spring, then he belongs there."
The Worlds road race, taking place on September 29, wasn't on Van der Poel's radar when he planned his multi-discipline 2019 campaign. This summer he is set to ride a number of mountain bike events, leading up to the MTB World Championships in Canada, which take place between August 28 and September 1. That would leave one month to switch gears back to the road.
The cyclo-cross season begins with World Cup races in the USA on September 14 and 22, although Van der Poel chose to skip those last year.
"It is primarily a matter for Mathieu. He has to see if it fits in with his programme, given his activities on the mountain bike and his preparation for the 'cross season," said Moerenhout.
"We'll talk about it soon and then make a decision, but Mathieu has shown that he can make good choices."
As for the idea of a 24-year-old debutant, who is still relatively new to road racing, coming in and taking leadership of one of the sport's leading nations, Moerenhout insisted Van der Poel's recent performances speak for themselves.
"It may be that some of the riders frown upon it – a young upstart coming straight in – but on the other hand his class is unquestionable," he said. "Even the current riders will confirm that."
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