Mathieu van der Poel got to wear the yellow leader’s jersey in the Tour de France for six days in the past week, an impressive debut for his first appearance in cycling’s most prestigious race. (Photo: Bettini/Road Bike Action)
As many people had said he would, Mathieu van der Poel withdrew from the Tour de France after Saturday’s eighth stage in the action so he could start preparing for the Olympic mountain bike race coming up on July 26th.
Van der Poel had worn the yellow leader’s jersey in this year’s Tour de France for six days in a row, starting with his win of the second stage of the event, on June 27th and then going all the way through Friday’s seventh stage on July 2nd, while still holding onto the overall lead. His relative weakness on the road, if you can call it that, is known to be on the long steep mountain climbs, where he lost the eighth stage by over 21 minutes, and lost the overall lead by more than 12 minutes, knocking him down to 23rd place in the overall General Classification rankings at the end of Saturday’s race.
Van der Poel had previously let it be known that his main goal this year was to race the mountain bike competition in the Olympics after he raced in the early stages of the Tour de France, where he expected he’d do well, before the racers got into the mountains. It was the first time he ever raced in the Tour de France. Van der Poel was planning on withdrawing after the early stages of the Tour this year to get ready for the mountain bike competition in the Tokyo Olympics. Van der Poel had said in interviews that he needed to get back to riding mountain bikes again to prepare for the Olympic competition later this month.
The men’s Olympic mountain bike race is scheduled to take place on Monday, July 26th. Van der Poel is widely viewed by cycling experts as one of the greatest competitive cyclists in history, and is expected by some people to rack up multiple wins in the Tour de France by the time he retires, possibly even scoring more overall wins in the Tour de France than any other rider in history.