Mathieu van der Poel, the young cyclo-cross star, will transition to the mountain bike in the coming months as he sets his sights on a ride at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio.
The 21-year-old Dutchman, who was world cyclo-cross champion last year before conceding the rainbow jersey to Wout van Aert last weekend, has no competitive experience in cross country mountain biking, but is hungry to represent his country at the Games for the first time.
"In the coming weeks I want to do my first races as a mountain biker," he told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "And not just that. The aim is to earn selection for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I have not really done a lot with the mountain bike in the past and certainly not in competition. But the possibility of selection for the Games is motivating. I would die to go to Rio."
Van der Poel's coach at the BKCP Corendon team, Christoph Roodhooft, confirmed the move to Het Nieuwsblad, pointing out that mountain biking represents a better chance of selection than the road race, where the Dutch have several WorldTour riders.
"It is not yet 100 per cent certain which races he'll do," said Roodhooft, "but it seems an ideal target to work towards. Mathieu was also in the pre-selection for the Olympic road race, but this seems more feasible."
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