Wheelies, giant flags, selfie sticks - Van der Poel soaks up Giro atmosphere

Giro dItalia 2022 105th Edition 20th stage Belluno Marmolada 168km 28052022 Mathieu Van Der Poel NED Alpecin Fenix photo Ilario BiondiSprintCyclingAgency2022
Mathieu van der Poel soaks up the atmosphere on the final climb of the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Mathieu van der Poel reaches the end of his first full Grand Tour on Sunday, and has clearly been keen to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of the 2022 Giro d'Italia

The Dutchman won the opening stage in Hungary and wore the leader's pink jersey for three stages, and has been a consistently active presence ever since. 

As the race has grown increasingly mountainous, he has infiltrated numerous breakaways, even going remarkably close to victory in Lavarone on stage 17. When not out the front, however, he has been having fun off the back, doing wheelies and high-fiving fans on the final climbs of almost all recent stages. 

He first performed the stunt in Turin on stage 14, and was at it again on the Valico di Santa Cristina on the brutal stage 16. On Saturday, on the final climb of the final mountain stage, having already been in the breakaway, he was entertaining the fans once again. 

On Passo Fedaia - also known as the Marmolada - Van der Poel was seen performing a one-handed wheelie, holding it for a long stretch up the steep climb.

A little later, he was involved in further antics when Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma) grabbed a giant Colombian flag from a roadside spectator and started poking riders. Van der Poel smiled as his compatriot continued up the mountain waving the flag. 

On the same climb, still alongside Eenkhoorn, Van der Poel took a selfie stick from a spectator and started filming, giving the fan some footage that'll be worth its weight in gold. At the top, Van der Poel reportedly spent time signing autographs for young fans. 

While the race lead was swapping hands in dramatic scenes up the mountain, the videos below show the fun that is often to be had at the back of the race. Click 'see more' on the embedded posts below to watch the videos. 

Van der Poel made his Grand Tour debut at last year's Tour de France, also winning a stage and wearing the leader's jersey, but he pulled out after a week. He'll ride the Giro's final time trial on Sunday to complete the first three-week race of his career. 

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Patrick Fletcher

Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist, and former deputy editor of Cyclingnews, who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.