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Mathieu van der Poel reconfirmed his plan to start the Giro d’Italia, and hinted at a full three-week appearance rather than the opening week extravaganza of his grand tour debut at the Tour de France last year.
Speaking with Wielerflits after his Paris-Roubaix top-10 last weekend, the Alpecin-Fenix ace said he saw next month’s Giro as a key stepping stone in his cycling career.
“The Giro is a race that appeals to me. I think it will definitely be good for me in the future, to do a grand tour for my evolution as a rider. Especially when you see what a spring I’ve ridden now. That was not very extensive,” Van der Poel told Wielerflits.
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Van der Poel’s road season stretches back just five weeks.
A long winter layoff with back problems was called to a spectacular stop with a trip to the podium at Milan-San Remo in the middle of last month.
Victories at the Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen alongside top-10s at Amstel Gold Race and Paris-Roubaix followed close behind to give further confirmation that van der Poel is still a king of the classics.
Now the Dutchman wants to step up some more.
“The Giro might give me a little more base and make me just a little stronger, make the engine just a little bigger. That’s something I still need to work on,” he said. “I haven’t ridden a grand tour yet, even though I’m 27 years old. Everyone always says that you get better from a grand tour, so I’m curious.”
Van der Poel started the Tour de France last summer in an eight-day blitz that brought him a stage win and six days in the yellow jersey before he pulled the plug to prepare for the Olympic mountain bike race.
Van der Poel’s discussion with Wielerflits seems to confirm his recent ambition of seeing a full three weeks of racing in his return to grand tour action.
“I actually wanted to finish the Tour last year. I have indicated to the team that I will not dismount again after 10 days,” Van der Poel told AD.nl last month. “I intend to finish both the Giro and the Tour this year.”
The Giro rolls out of Budapest on May 6.