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Re: The Mathieu Van der Poel Appreciation Thread
« on: May 27, 2017, 09:48 »
So I said on the Tour of Belgium thread that Mathieu left the race in order to race the second MTB World Cup race in Albstadt  *de , that he won the mountainbike stage race in La Roche en Ardenne  *be earlier on along with 2 stage wins, that I was (gladly) surprised to see him back in MTB because he said last year that his campaign was strictly motivated by the prospect of an Olympic qualification and that it did not seem to interest him in non-Olympic years.

But I did not about his amazing performance in Nové Město  *cz , first World Cup event this year !!  :o

Nové Město : The Incredible Performance of Mathieu Van der Poel

Never in journalist memory we've witnessed such a sporting moment. Yes Nové Město once again delivered a great show in front with Schurter, Absalon and the likes. But behind a 21-year old champion [actually he's 22 now] made a real feat. One of those the sport is so keen about, which makes up the legend of the sport. The story of a rare intensity moment which we lived on the trackside.

Mathieu Van der Poel is a great champion. There's no doubt about it and in cyclocross everybody knows it. But though he's a former Cyclocross World Champion, in mountainbike his palmares still needs to build up. One victory in Cyprus in 2016 and another one on the BeMC this year : he already has some nice bouquets at international level we will mostly remember that he failed at his Olympic campaign last year.

I wasn't ready. I made a lot of mistakes on my first World Cup events.

He explained it frankly but as a great champion he's learned from his mistakes.

Nové Město *cz on 21 May 2017. Mathieu Van der Poel is at the start of the first World Cup event of the season. He's only 21[sic]. He could race the U23 race [since he's 22, he still could] but he's with the elite. Or rather behind the elite for for lack of UCI points in mountainbike he's starting with #90 at the tail of the peloton.

On this type of races not only are the starts very important but starting so far away the chances for a crash increases tenfold. And bam, what should have happened happened. McConnell is deviating, Stirnemann breaks his chain and a good pack of riders are down in a tangle of bikes. Among them was MVDP (as those who cannot pronounce his long name call him)[:shh].

Others would have called it quit or found excuses but he, Poulidor's grandson and Adrie's son, worked twice as hard. Still 90th at the end of the start loop (raced for the most part with a chain stuck on the lower sprocket before the derailleur works well again). He will then start a come back that is undoubtedly one of the greatest our sport has seen.

The race has hardly started and Schurter already has an almost 2' lead. At the end of the first lap, Mathieu Van der Poel has made 15 places up but he's still stuck in the traffic and is again losing time to the head of the race. From the 2nd lap on he can finally kill watts. His remount is im-pres-sive! Under our eyes in one climb he's overtaking more than a dozen riders: 51st, 33rd, 25th... He does not stop taking higher places. You'd think he would stop, pay the price for it, crack down. But finally there's a bit of room on the track and he will capitalise on that. Even if he's a short effort specialist in cyclocross, he's just won a marathon event at the BeMC in which he dominate World Champion Tiago Ferreira. Besides Mathieu Van der Poel he will take part in the World Championship in that category.

So now he did not collapse. Even better he could afford to sign the best lap-time along with Nino Schurter in the last-but-one lap.

At the start of the final lap Mathieu Van der Poel is 12th. He's already done a great achievement at that point but it wasn't enough.

In a state of grace he can scalp guys like Reto Indergand, Manuel Fumic and Pablo Rodriguez Guede before outsprinting Marco-Aurelio Fontana and Anton Cooper.

Eighth! (we write it down in full letters because it's needed in order to convince ourselves). He's ending it eighth, out of breath. Fontana cannot believe it and rushed to congratulate him. He's earned the respect of the greatest.

I haven't planned to go to Albstadt. Perhaps later on. Nothing is sure but in any case a day like today makes you feel like coming back
[so he changed his mind very quickly  ;)]

In any case it makes us feel like seeing him back because with the show that he's made today we may undoubtedly claim he can compete with the best. Okay with the "ifs" you can put Paris into a bottle [French idiom  :P] but when you look at his times and you discount the time lost at the start of the race he simply would have battling it out for the win with Nino Schurter. So Mathieu if you are reading us, please, come back soon to an MTB World Cup event. The entertainment is nice already but your presence may bring more colour to it.

[Perhaps he's read it. Article by Olivier Béart  :cool]

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