Mathieu van der Poel will be let loose on the spring classics for the first time in 2019. While a debut at Paris-Roubaix will have to wait another year, the Dutch talent will race, among others, the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, and Amstel Gold Race.
Van der Poel, 23, has focused on cyclo-cross and mountain bike in the early years of his career, but is hotly tipped to have successful years as a road racer ahead of him. Expectations only grew this year as he won the elite Dutch national road race title and two stages at the Arctic Race of Norway.
While he has delayed going full-time on the road in the WorldTour until after the 2020 Olympics, where he will go for gold on the mountain bike, his Corendon-Circus team will step up to Pro Continental level next year, allowing them to earn invites for the biggest spring classics.
The team held a press conference on Monday, announcing their road plans in the spring, as well as unveiling a bolstered roster to support the new race programme, including Stijn Devolder, Lasse Norman Hansen, and Dries De Bondt.
Van der Poel's cyclo-cross campaign will culminate in February with the World Championships at the start of the month and the the Brico Cross Hulst on the 17th, after which he will switch to the road. His first outing will be the Tour of Antalya and, while he will not be in the squad that races Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the start of March, he will ride Nokere Koerse and the Handzame Classic ahead of the big cobbled Classics.
E3-Harelbeke is not on the team's schedule, but Van der Poel will lead them at Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, and the Tour of Flanders. ASO are said to have been keen to have Van der Poel at Paris-Roubaix, but he preferred to skip the 'Hell of the North' in order to focus on the Amstel Gold Race, ahead of which he'll line up at Brabantse Pijl.
"The spring will be an introduction for me, but I also start with ambition," van der Poel said, according to Sporza. "I will not race to make up the numbers, and I want to be in top condition at the start.
"The Dutch jersey is too important for the Amstel Gold Race. Paris-Roubaix just does not fit in with the program with the Tour of Flanders, Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race. We have spoken with ASO but they only want me at the start when I go full. I cannot guarantee that, but it will come about in the coming years."
Corendon-Circus for 2019: Mathiew van der Poel, Dries De Bondt, Stijn Devolder, Petter Fagerhaug, Lasse Norman Hansen, Roy Jans, Jimmy Janssens, Tom Meeusen, Marcel Meisen, David van der Poel, Jonas Rickaert, Loris Rouiller, Joeri Stallaert, Maarten van Trijp, Gianni Vermeersch, Philipp Walsleben
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