Van der Poel: Olympic gold is my main goal this season

Mathieu van der Poel's new-look Alpecin-Fenix team was presented on Friday, with the revamped multi-discipline team introduced by the 24-year-old and team co-managers Christoph and Philip Roodhoft.

At the event, held in Amsterdam, Van der Poel reiterated that the Tokyo Olympic Games are his biggest goal of the season. He'll ride the cross-country mountain bike race there in late July a month after competing in the same race at the UCI World Championships in Albstadt, Germany.

"The Olympic mountain bike race in Tokyo is perhaps my biggest and most important goal of the season," Van der Poel told Het Laatste Nieuws at the presentation. "I'm also taking part in the mountain bike World Championships.

"In contrast to last year, the World Championships are held in Europe and that makes it a little easier for me to decide to participate. In the end, I opted for the World Championships in Yorkshire. In hindsight, I opted for the wrong World Championships," he joked.

Before he switches over to the mountain bike, Van der Poel will ride a full spring schedule on the road, with multiple WorldTour races added to those he raced in 2019.

Alpecin-Fenix have received an invite to the Volta a Catalunya, which runs from March 23-29 and means that Van der Poel won't race the E3 BinckBank Classic or Gent-Wevelgem. He already has numerous cobbled Classics confirmed in his schedule, including Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders.

Team co-manager Philip Roodhoft confirmed that the team are positive about securing invites to several other spring races, too.

"We are confident that we will be able to start in Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo," he said. "For the Amstel Gold Race, we still need to talk to the race organiser Leo Van Vliet. We also had a good conversation with ASO regarding Paris-Roubaix."

As for the team itself, there have been several additions for 2020, with Louis Vervaeke (Team Sunweb), Floris De Tier (Jumbo-Visma), Petr Vakoč (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Sacha Modolo (EF Education First) and Kristian Sbaragli (Israel Cycling Academy) among the new faces.

Van der Poel said that the strengthening was needed as the squad steps up to compete in more WorldTour races next year, with Van der Poel holding less of a 'surprise' factor after his phenomenal 2019 season.

"It was really necessary," he said. "I think we'll be more 'watched' this year, after all. Other teams will expect us to control the race, so we needed some new, strong guys."

Christoph Roodhoft added, "Until now we could always race in the role of underdog and challenger. That will change now. I think the big teams will no longer just give us space and opportunities."

Van der Poel is currently in the midst of the cyclo-cross season, where he's racked up 17 wins in 18 races so far. The UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships will be held in Dübendorf, Switzerland on February 1-2.

Alpecin-Fenix 2020 squad

Antoine Benoist (Fra), Ryan Cortjens (Bel), Dries De Bondt (Bel), Floris De Tier (Bel), Peter Fagerhaug (Nor), Samuel Gaze (Aus), Lasse Norman Hansen (Den), Roy Jans (Bel), Jimmy Janssens (Bel), Alexander Krieger (Ger), Senne Leysen (Bel), Marcel Meisen (Ger), Tim Merlier (Bel), Sacha Modolo (Ita), Alexander Richardson (GBr), Oscar Riesebeek (Ned), Jonas Rickaert (Bel), Loris Rouiller (Sui), Kristian Sbaragli (Ita), Scott Thwaites (GBr), Ben Tulett (GBr), Petr Vakoč (Cze), David van der Poel (Ned), Mathieu van der Poel (Ned), Niels Vandeputte (Bel), Otto Vergaerde (Bel), Gianni Vermeersch (Bel), Louis Vervaecke (Bel), Philipp Walsleben (Ger)

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned), Ronja Eibl (Ger)

Mathieu van der Poel's provisional 2020 schedule

March 7: Strade Bianche

March 11-17: Tirreno-Adriatico

March 21: Milan-San Remo

March 23-29: Volta a Catalunya

April 1: Dwars door Vlaanderen

April 5: Tour of Flanders

April 12: Paris-Roubaix

April 15: Brabantse Pijl

April 19: Amstel Gold Race

April 22: La Flèche Wallonne

May: UCI Mountain Bike World Cup rounds

June 28: UCI Mountain Bike XCO World Championships

July 27: Olympic Games, cross-country mountain bike

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