Mathieu van der Poel could be out for months, says father Adrie

DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 26 LR Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team JumboVisma and Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin Fenix compete during the 2nd Dendermonde UCI CycloCross Worldcup 2021 Mens Elite CXWorldCup UCIcyclocrossWC on December 26 2021 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Mathieu van der Poel (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Adrie van der Poel has suggested that his son Mathieu van der Poel will not race “for months” due to an ongoing back injury, though he insisted that the Alpecin-Fenix rider’s participation in the Spring Classics was not in doubt.

Mathieu van der Poel suffered a recurrence of a longstanding back injury during the Heusden-Zolder Superprestige, his second cyclo-cross race of the winter, which he abandoned before the finish. He has not race since, although he reportedly returned to training on Saturday with a 60km ride north of Antwerp.

Speaking to Sporza (opens in new tab), Adrie van der Poel confirmed that Mathieu would not participate in Wednesday's X²O Herentals race and he suggested that the remainder of his cyclo-cross campaign was in doubt.

“Mathieu is doing exercises for his back and taking some rest. There is no question of him starting tomorrow in Herentals,” Adrie van der Poel told Sporza, acknowledging that his son was likely to be out of action for a significant period of time.

“I think so. It's very wise not to really start cycling until all the back problems are gone."

Asked if Mathieu van der Poel would be out for months rather than weeks, Adrie van der Poel said: “I think so. There are still three months until April, so the Spring races are not in danger.”

Adrie van der Poel stressed, however, that this was his personal view of the situation rather than a decision from the Alpecin-Fenix team. “In the end, as in the past, the team will handle this wisely. We'll wait and see,” he said.

Mathieu van der Poel’s brother David told Sporza that he, too, has been suffering with back issues this winter and he explained that it was a family trait, given that their father Adrie had also managed back injuries through his career. David van der Poel explained that back pain had contributed to his abandon in Hulst on Monday.

“My father has always struggled with it and now his two sons too," David van der Poel told Sporza ahead of Tuesday’s cyclo-cross in Gullegem. "That's annoying."

David van der Poel echoed his father when he suggested that Mathieu van der Poel needed a break from competition and training in order to recover.

“It's not going so well, of course. He has a bit of the same problem as I do. When exerting himself, he suffers afterwards and also during the races too,” said David van der Poel.

“He needs to take some time to let it fully recover. I don't think there's any point in solving it quickly every time before a cyclo-cross and then having a relapse again.”

Like his father Adrie, David van der Poel cast doubt on Mathieu van der Poel’s winter campaign but added that his injury was not causing the world cyclo-cross champion undue worry.

“I don't think so. I think he is in good shape mentally,” David van der Poel said. “I think he realizes that it will be difficult this season to reach his level. I think he is calm enough and he knows it takes time.”

Mathieu van der Poel won Strade Bianche and wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in 2021, as well as placing second at both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He started his 2021-22 cyclo-cross season at the Dendermonde World Cup on December 26, where he placed second behind Wout van Aert, who has won seven out of eight cyclo-cross races this winter.


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