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Mathieu van der Poel to ride World Championships despite recent back problems

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Mathieu van der Poel has confirmed he will ride Sunday’s UCI Road World Championships road race in Flanders despite recently suffering with back problems that disrupted his training and race programme. 

Van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team first revealed he was suffering from a back problem after he returned home early from a training camp in the Italian Alps in August.

Van der Poel’s problem reportedly dates back to May and is linked with the change in position from the road bike in the spring to the mountain bike in the summer. Van der Poel also crashed hard during the Tokyo Olympic mountain bike race. According to WielerFlits, Van der Poel was suffering from a painful herniated disc, with fluid between the vertebrae in his back.

He did not ride the Benelux Tour but last week tested his form in three one-day races. He won the Antwerp Port Classic and decided to ride the World Championships after finishing Sunday’s Gooikse Pijl.

The Netherlands Cycling Federation KNWU, confirmed that van der Poel will be part of the eight-rider men’s team for Sunday’s road race.

“Mathieu has not had the ideal run-up to this World Championships, but he certainly gives an extra dimension to our road team. It increases our chances of success that he takes part,” national coach Koos Moerenhout said.

“He may not be the clear favorite due to his physical issues leading up to this World Cup but he will certainly be a rider to watch. I'm glad he's starting the race.”

Moerenhout had named Van der Poel in his team alongside Dylan van Baarle, Bauke Mollema, Mike Teunissen, Sebastian Langeveld, Oscar Riesebeek, Danny van Poppel and Pascal Eenkhoorn.

“We have a squad with different cards to play in the final, but Mathieu will be a protected man. We're not going to play a puppet show about that," Moerenhout explained. 

"Mathieu always wants to win. He wouldn't start if he didn't see opportunities. That's the sign of a great champion. In recent weeks he has seen that his back is holding up and that he has been able to make an effort to take a step up in form. If it wasn't medically possible, he shouldn't have done this."