Mathieu van der Poel will form part of an eight-rider team that will represent the Netherlands in the elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Australia. The national team coach admitted to making tough decisions regarding the selection but believes the result is a balanced team that is in contention to win the rainbow jersey.
“Making a selection for a World Championship in Australia so soon after the Vuelta has been quite a puzzle. But I am convinced that we will travel with a balanced team with which we can stand our ground in the fight for the world title," said National coach Koos Moerenhout.
Van der Poel has indicated that he will travel to the World Championships held in Wollongong from September 18-25 with strong performance ambitions alongside teammates Dylan van Baarle, second at last year's Worlds, Bauke Mollema, Daan Hoole, Pascal Eenkhoorn, Wout Poels, Jan Maas and Taco van der Hoorn.
"Mathieu is a spearhead but we certainly want to use the strength of the entire team. As far as you can compare a Worlds course with a Classic, it is a mix of the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We have a balanced squad on which we can be competitive on all parts of the course," Moerenhout said.
Van der Poel is a strong contender for the title having previously won Amstel Gold Race, won twice at Tour of Flanders, and has won stages at both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
The elite men's road race will take place on Sunday, September 25 across a 266.9km route that features Mount Keira, an 8.7km climb with an average gradient of 5%, followed by city circuits that include Mount Pleasant that has an average gradient of 7.7% and a maximum of 14%.
"In recent years, the pace at the World Championships has often been high and in combination with approximately four thousand altimeters, this championship will once again become a battle of wear and tear, especially once we have passed the limit of two hundred kilometres. The last climb shortly before the finish invites you to attack. I am happy to have put together a team that will allow us to compete for the win on this difficult course. We travel with confidence and ambition," Moerenhout said.
Despite the team's strength in the road race, Moerenhout admitted that they are lacking a strong contender for the time trial of the calibre of Tom Dumoulin who recently announced his retirement from professional cycling with immediate effect. Mollema and Hoole will compete in the time trial held on September 18.
"Daan Hoole has already shown that he can achieve a very high level in the youth categories and can now also compete directly with the best in the world among the pros," Moerenhout said. "Bauke Mollema has always been a good time trialist, but has shown a lot of progress this year, which has already led to some very good performances. I am curious about his performance at this World Championship. So, there is also ambition in this area.”
Van der Poel, Mollema and Hoole will also compete in the mixed team relay with teammates Annemiek van Vleuten, Ellen van Dijk and Riejanne Markus.
The federation had already announced the elite women's team that will be led by Van Vleuten and Marianne Vos, along with Demi Vollering, Floortje Mackaij, van Dijk, Markus, and Shirin van Anrooij, who is the team's only women's under-23 rider.
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