Mathieu van der Poel will lead the Dutch elite men's team at the UCI Road World Championships road race in Yorkshire, in the UK, later this month, and admits that he should be considered among the favourites on the Classics-style course after winning Amstel Gold earlier this season.
Talking at a press event organised by his Corendon-Circus team in Antwerp, Belgium, on Wednesday, Van der Poel also said that he would be riding a reduced cyclo-cross season this winter as he puts all his efforts into preparing to win the Worlds road race on September 29.
"I will of course be among the big favourites at the World Championships," Van der Poel said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. "I can agree with that. That's not illogical after my spring on the road."
While he admitted that he didn't yet know too much about the Yorkshire course, he still has plenty of time to do a reconnaissance ride before the end of the month, especially as he'll also race at the eight-day Tour of Britain, which starts on Saturday.
"I don't know much about it outside the bridge that collapsed, which got into the media," he said. "But I think it's the kind of course for an Amstel-Gold-Race type of rider, so I understand why they're putting me among the favourites."
As well as winning Amstel Gold in the spring, Van der Poel won Dwars door Vlaanderen, the GP de Denain, the Brabantse Pijl and a stage at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, as well as finishing fourth at both the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem.
Despite continuing to ride on the road, in cyclo-cross and on mountain bikes at the highest level, Van der Poel chose not to ride the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada last week to instead concentrate on being ready for the road Worlds.
"That certainly wasn't an easy choice to make," Van der Poel admitted. "You have to make choices. The World Championships in Yorkshire are tailor-made for me, and that doesn't happen every year.
"Sometimes a road Worlds is completely flat or, like next year [in Switzerland], really for the climbers. I just have to take my chance now," he said.
At the Arctic Tour of Norway last month, where he also won a stage, Van der Poel had told reporters, including Cyclingnews, that he considered France's Julian Alaphilippe the favourite for Yorkshire.
"He's the strongest rider this year on the road overall, for sure," Van der Poel said. "If you saw what he did at the Tour de France, it was quite incredible. The Worlds are his last big goal, and we've seen this year that if he sets his mind to something, he can achieve really nice things. So for me he's the strongest opponent."
As a result of focusing on the Worlds road race, Van der Poel said that his cyclo-cross season wouldn't get under way until late October, after he's ridden the mountain bike Olympic test event in Tokyo, Japan, at the start of October.
"I certainly won't be racing 30 cyclo-cross events, like I have in the past," said Van der Poel. "I'm only going to concentrate on the DVV Trophy series, a few of the World Cups and Superprestige races, and a few others.
"My big goals in cyclo-cross this season will be the DVV classification and the World Championships," he said.
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