Will Mathieu Van Der Poel Finish the Tour de France or Pull Out to Get Ready for the Olympic Mountain Bike Event?
By John Ker
A few weeks ago we saw an article that reported that Mathieu van der Poel had said that his plans for the Tour de France this year included racing in the early stages, then withdrawing from the race to get ready for the Olympics, where Van der Poel plans to win the gold medal in mountain biking. What’s more, he is reportedly planning to win the gold medal in mountain biking in the 2024 Olympics, too.
As of tonight (Wednesday), Van der Poel has won one stage of this year’s Tour de France (on Sunday), and his high finishes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday kept him in the leader’s yellow jersey of the Tour for four days in a row. His late grandfather, Raymond Poulidor, the most beloved cyclist in French history, won numerous stages in the Tour de France and placed on the final podium in eight different Tour de France events, but Poulidor never once won the event or even got to wear the yellow jersey for a single day. Mathieu has now worn it four days in a row, doing so in his very first appearance in the Tour.
The question now is whether Mathieu Van der Poel will stay in this year’s Tour or pull out early to train for the Olympics. Van der Poel’s greatest weakness in the Tour is said to be in the mountain stages, where it’s expected that he’ll finally lose the leader’s jersey and any chance of an overall win once the racers begin to compete in the mountains of France.
Will Van der Poel pull out of the Tour? Has he gotten so strong that he can keep his lead in the mountains, too? We don’t know, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the days ahead. Van der Poel has been recognized by some of the greatest Tour riders in history as the one rider in the world today who looks like he has what it takes to join their ranks and win the Tour de France five or more times before his career ends. Is it possible for Van der Poel to win the event this year? We don’t know, but we can’t write him off yet. What’s more, if he could somehow pull it off, he’d still have eight days before he’d have to line up for the start of the men’s Olympic mountain bike race. For a rider who wants to be recognized as the greatest cyclist in history, winning the Tour de France and then the Men’s Olympic Mountain Bike race eight days later would offer impressive evidence that Van der Poel could well be the greatest cyclist in history. We’ll see what happens.