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Mathieu van der Poel: I owe it to my sponsors to participate in the Tour de France

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM OCTOBER 18 Arrival Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration Press Media during the 104th Tour of Flanders 2020 Ronde van Vlaanderen Men Elite a 2433km race from Antwerpen to Oudenaarde RVV20 FlandersClassic on October 18 2020 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) celebrates victory at 2020 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Mathieu van der Poel has suggested that he will race in the Tour de France in 2021 for his sponsors, according to a report in Sporza. The Dutch rider, who races for Alpecin-Fenix, said that he owed it to his sponsors to make his French Grand Tour debut as he maintains focus on the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer.

"I think I owe it to the sponsors to participate in the Tour," Van der Poel told Sporza. "The season is a difficult puzzle and not only my own ambitions count. I never underestimate the importance of the sponsors. Without them there is no sport. But I can't quite do what I want."

In October, Van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix team all but sealed their Tour de France invitation after they topped the UCI Europe Tour rankings, with 4,788 points, published by the UCI.

Van der Poel had already confirmed that he would compete in next year's Tour de France in an article in L'Equipe in November, after he had seen the route for the 2021 race unveiled in Paris. At that time, he placed an importance on stage wins with Alpecin-Fenix.

Van der Poel also intends to ride the mountain bike cross-country race at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games that get underway in late July, but has yet to decide on his entire 2021 summer programme, although he did say that if there were no changes to the calendar he would certainly be racing at the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.

"The Tour is very inconvenient," he told Sporza. "The Tour is secondary to the Games, but I am also not going to France to come for 10 days and then leave."

Van der Poel has been eyeing the mountain bike event at the Olympic Games as a major target, however, the event was postponed this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and moved to next summer instead.

"The delay of the Games is a disadvantage for me. Last year I was where I wanted to be and I was ready for the Games. I had raced almost all the World Cups, I knew where I was in relation to the competition and I felt great on my bike," he told Sporza.

"Now a year has passed in which I have barely been on my mountain bike. It is still a question mark. The dream and the hope for Olympic gold is certainly not gone, but it will be a lot more difficult."