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Van der Poel hoping to combine Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this summer

Foto LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari
19 Marzo 2022 Milano (Italia)
Sport Ciclismo
113a edizione Milano-Sanremo - da Milano a Sanremo - 293 km
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) took third at Milan-San Remo as a late addition to the start list (Image credit: LaPresse/Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel has said that he hopes to race – and complete – both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this season.

The Dutchman had been touted to make his Giro debut this May, though his participation is not yet fully certain. He told AD.nl (opens in new tab) that he thinks there's a good chance to take the leader's pink jersey in the first week of the race.

"The Giro is definitely an option," he said. "It's not 100 per cent sure yet, but the combination of Giro and Tour is definitely in my head.

"The first week is very attractive with a chance at the pink jersey. That is the main reason."

The first stage of the Giro in Budapest ends with a punchy finishing climb, something that suits Van der Poel very well, and a similar scenario to the Mûr-de-Bretagne last July, where he won and took the Tour's yellow jersey.

He added that, if he were to ride the Giro, then he'd see it through to the end, and would do the same at the Tour as well. Last year he withdrew midway through to focus on the Tokyo Olympics.

"Actually, last year I wanted to finish the Tour," he said. "I have indicated to the team that I am not going to dismount again after ten days. I have the intention to finish the Giro and the Tour both this year.

In the near future for Van der Poel, though, is a ride at this week's five-stage Settimana Coppi e Bartali as he aims for full race fitness ahead of the cobbled Classics. Alpecin-Fenix manager Christoph Roodhooft has insisted that the team won't let any stage win opportunities pass by.

Van der Poel was a last minute addition to the Milan-San Remo Alpecin-Fenix roster, having initially planned to make his season debut at the Coppi e Bartali race following an extended break due to lingering back pain. When the team announced his participation, they said he would race "without expectations or ambitions" but the Dutch rider showed his form by finishing third at Milan-San Remo.

When asked by Wielerflits (opens in new tab) how much of an indication that was for the classics ahead, Roodhooft responded: “That's the big question, isn't it? We secured that third place. But in Flanders and Roubaix the race is different. In San Remo Mathieu was able to keep a low profile for 250 kilometres in the peloton.

“But to answer your question; it remains to be seen. We can only conclude that he is on the right track form wise. With the Coppi e Bartali also in his legs, he should be ready to play his role as leader in the Classics.”

Van der Poel has been hindered by back pain since May last year, which was diagnosed as swelling on an intervertebral disc in December, with the solution being complete rest. He was off the bike for January and early in February was able to return to the home trainer before moving from short to long training rides. 

When asked if there were any short of long-term ailments evident after his Milan-San Remo return Roodhooft responded to Wielerflits that there was “nothing that is not normal after a 300-kilometre race”.

The rider will be facing shorter days at Settimana Coppi e Bartali, with the longest stage at 166km, but a good dose of climbing through most days of the 2.1-classified event, which runs from March 22 to 26.

“Our original approach remains the same: to gain race hardness and extra race rhythm towards the Flemish classics,” Roodhooft told Wielerflits when asked about his goals for his debut at the Italian race. 

“But when opportunities present themselves, we will not pass them up. We never do that and that does not fit into the picture of current cycling. But we have no ambitions for the final classification. Winning one or two stages would be great.”

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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.