The allure of road racing continues to draw in Mathieu van der Poel.
Despite having mountain biking as a central goal going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the multi-faceted Dutch rider will skip the mountain bike world championships this summer to race the UCI road world championships in Yorkshire.
The chance to win road cycling’s rainbow jersey was simply too big to pass up for the 24-year-old sensation.
“Of course I regret I cannot compete in the mountain bike world championships,” van der Poel said Friday. “The course in Yorkshire should suit me, and that’s why I am focusing on the road world championships.”
Van der Poel’s discipline-crossing skills forced him to make calendar choices. The hilly Yorkshire worlds course, set for September 29 in the United Kingdom, were too close in proximity on the racing calendar to some key mountain bike dates.
Mountain biking’s world championships are set for August 31-September 1 in Mont Saint-Anne, Canada. Mountain bike World Cup finals are in West Virginia on September 7-8. Another key date is the Tokyo cross-country mountain bike test event on October 4 in Japan, an important race to secure a starting slot for the 2020 Olympic Games.
With a favorable road worlds course in the offing, something had to go. Van der Poel will skip the mountain bike worlds and the World Cup finals, race the road worlds, and prepare for a big push toward the Tokyo test event, a preview race held on what will be the Olympic course next summer.
“Combining three disciplines automatically results in the necessity to make choices,” read an official statement from van der Poel’s Corendon-Circus team. “We have analyzed all possible scenario’s in detail, and we came to the conclusion that the combination of the road championships and the test event in Tokyo would be more suited not just to Mathieu but to the whole team.”
Despite the detour into Yorkshire, van der Poel is still committed to competing in mountain biking during the 2020 Tokyo Games. He will continue to mix road and cyclocross into his racing calendar. He won his first career World Cup mountain bike race in late May in the Czech Republic.
Van der Poel will return to cross-country World Cup racing next month, with planned starts at Les Gets (July 12-14), Val di Sole (August 3-4), and Lenzerheide (August 10-11).
Officials also confirmed he will participate in lucrative post-Tour de France criteriums at Antwerp and Roosendaal, as well as race in the Arctic Race of Norway (August 15-18) and the OVO Energy Tour of Britain (September 8-15).