Mathieu van der Poel leaves Tour de Suisse through illness

Tour de Suisse 2021 - 85th Edition - 4th stage Sankt Urban - Gstaad 171 km - 09/06/2021 - Mathieu Van Der Poel (NED - Alpecin-Fenix) - photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

After two stage wins and a day in the leader's yellow jersey, Mathieu van der Poel will play no further part in the Tour de Suisse, leaving the race through illness ahead of stage 6. 

The Alpecin-Fenix team revealed on Friday morning that the Dutchman is suffering from a 'mild cold' and that they didn't want to take any risks with the Tour de France and Olympics coming up. 

Van der Poel enjoyed a successful stint at the race, which marked his return to the road after six weeks of mountain biking, winning stages 2 and 3 in reduced bunch sprints in convincing fashion. However, the wet weather that has greeted every stage so far has apparently taken its toll.

"After the rainfall from the past days, Mathieu van der Poel suffers from a mild cold," read a statement from the team. 

"While he was really looking forward to the next stages, the team's medical staff decided to pull him out of the [race ed.] so as not to compromise his health in light of his next goals."

Van der Poel is set to line up to defend his Dutch champion's jersey at his national championships next Sunday, which again take place on a circuit based on the short VAM berg climb. 

He will then make his highly-anticipated debut at the Tour de France, which starts on June 26. The punchy opening stages in Brittany should offer opportunities for stage wins and perhaps even the yellow jersey, and he'll be even more fancied after his showings in Switzerland. 

However, Van der Poel has always insisted that his biggest goal of the summer and indeed the year as a whole comes in Tokyo, and on the mountain bike rather than the road bike. The Cross Country race at the Olympics takes place on July 26, just over a week after the final stage of the Tour. 

The remaining stages in the Tour de Suisse were unlikely to offer any real opportunities for Van der Poel, with the terrain almost exclusively mountainous. Friday's stage 6 and Sunday's concluding stage 8 are both high-mountain road stages, while stage 7 is a time trial that goes up and down the Oberalp Pass. 

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) inherited the yellow jersey from Van der Poel on Thursday with his victory on stage 5. 

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.