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Mathieu van der Poel hopes Tour de France will invite two extra teams

Amstel Gold Race 2019 54th Edition Maastricht Berg en Terblijt 2657km 21042019 Mathieu Van Der Poel NED Team Corendon Circus photo Dion KerckhoffstCVBettiniPhoto2019
Van der Poel hopes to make his Tour de France debut this year (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mathieu van der Poel still hopes he can make his Tour de France debut this year, suggesting the organisers might create space for two extra teams. 

Van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix team did not receive one of the two wildcard invitations that are handed to second-division ProTeams in addition to the automatic invites for the 19 WorldTour teams and the top-ranked ProTeam. 

However, this week the Tour was pushed back to August 29 - September 20, having been prioritised as the most important race in the newly salvaged 2020 calendar, seen as crucial to the survival of some teams. As such, Van der Poel hopes special dispensation can be granted for 24 teams on the start line, and his team manager is already lobbying for that to happen.

"It is positive that we have received a few targets, which the riders can cling to," Van der Poel said of the new calendar in an interview with the Belgian press.

"It is still too early for clear planning - much will depend on whether the Tour de France allows two extra teams to participate. In that case, I really hope we're there. 

"[Team manager] Philip Roodhooft has already been in contact with ASO. I want to ride the Tour. I'm not really thinking about another Grand Tour. I'm focused on the Tour and the Classics."

There are, as yet, no dates for the rescheduled Spring Classics, but it is expected the five Monument races will take place in October or November, following the Tour and the World Championships. 

"That is going to be very special. And what will the weather conditions be like?" Van der Poel wondered. 

"If we can ride, we just have to do that, even if it is a different experience. Driving up the Oude Kwaremont or Paterberg without fans, that makes it less pleasant. I need that atmosphere - that's the beauty of the race. But if you have to, you have to."

Van der Poel is making sure to stay in good shape, logging long rides in the Netherlands, where, unlike Spain and France, it's still permitted to ride outdoors. 

"I will continue to train well. As long as the weather is good, I do long ride of about 200 kilometers. Then you are busy for a while," he said. 

"It's more fun than riding on the rollers. Imagine if I lived in Monaco, where you cannot exercise outside, then I'd go crazy. I don't really follow a training schedule, I do what I feel like maintaining the condition. I also ride the mountain bike once or twice a week, as a change."

Van der Poel said he's coping well mentally with the social distancing measures necessitated by the pandemic, and added that the lack of racing was not getting him down but in fact easing the psychological pressure. 

"I must say, this mental rest period is good. That is a positive thing in this situation," he said.

"For the first time in a long time, I don't feel any pressure."