Van der Poel gets custom Canyon with poignant message at Tour de France
'Yellow was not meant to be till now' reads the hidden message
For stage 3 of the Tour de France, Mathieu van der Poel will be aboard an all-new, custom-painted yellow Canyon Aeroad, complete with a poignant message relating to his late grandfather Raymond Poulidor.
Poupou, as he's affectionately known, died in November 2019, and famously never wore the yellow jersey in his illustrious career, despite finishing on the podium eight times in his 14 appearances.
In remembrance, the Alpecin-Fenix team arrived at the team presentation on Thursday wearing Poulidor-inspired kit, resplendent in the yellow and purple of the Mercier–BP–Hutchinson team for which Poulidor raced, and with Van der Poel recreating his grandfather's pose more than four decades on from the original photograph.
Despite originally planning to wear the jersey for the presentations alone, the team was then permitted to race in the kit on stage 1, a day on which Van der Poel hoped would see him ride into yellow - and into a fairytale ending of his first-ever Tour de France start. However, when that plan was cut short by Julian Alaphilippe's stinging attack, Van der Poel found himself 18 seconds off the race lead, and his fairytale ending dwindling into nonexistence.
In Van der Poel's words, Stage 2 represented his last chance to wear the jersey. The finale featured two ascents of the climb into Mûr-de-Bretagne, where conveniently, the time bonuses atop the climb amounted to exactly 18 seconds. If he was to honour his grandfather how he originally planned, Van der Poel would have to take all of the available bonuses, win the stage and finish with a gap. An enormous effort, but if anyone could do it, it was him.
Ascent number one, Van der Poel went long, and with a recurring backward glance, he gauged his effort to ensure he did enough to capture the eight-second bonus he needed, without doing any more. Nobody but he and his teammates knew what was going on, and teams gathered themselves to peg back what they then assumed was a 16km solo attack for the finish.
The saying goes that "to win a bike race, you've got to want it more than everyone else", and never has that been more evident than during the second ascent into Mûr-de-Bretagne. Following the pace set by Ineos Grenadiers' Richie Porte, Van der Poel withstood an attack from Davide Formolo, before bringing back Nairo Quintana alone at 1.2km to go, and then Colbrelli at 1km, before launching his own attack, which saw him ride away, win the stage and put six seconds into everyone else.
The emotion was raw as Van der Poel fielded questions from Seb Piquet afterwards, and that same emotion will continue today.
To commemorate the occasion, Alpecin-Fenix's bike sponsor, Canyon, has supplied a yellow-jersey-appropriate Canyon Aeroad CFR, but complete with a poignant message on the underside of the down tube that reads:
"Allez PouPou. 14 Tours, 7 stage wins, 3 second and 5 third steps. Yellow was not meant to be till now. Allez Mathieu."
Complete with its yellow paint, the bike is also given matching yellow bottles and cages from Elite, a yellow Wahoo Elemnt Bolt computer, as well as a similarly colour-matched transponder holder on the fork. Completing the aesthetic is the same aero integrated cockpit, which we predict is the replacement for the bar that failed at Le Samyn earlier this year.
Mathieu Van der Poel's Canyon Aeroad CFR: Specifications
|Frame||Canyon Aeroad CFR|
|Groupset||Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Di2|
|Brakes||Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Hydraulic Disc|
|Wheelset||Shimano C60 tubular|
|Stem||Canyon integrated cockpit|
|Handlebars||Canyon integrated cockpit|
|Power Meter||Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P|
|Pedals||Shimano Dura-Ace R9100|
|Saddle||Selle Italia Flite Boost|
|Tyres||Vittoria Corsa Graphene tubular|
|Computer||Wahoo Elemnt Bolt|
|Bottle Cages||Elite Vico carbon|
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.