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Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) suffered a return of the back pain that troubled him since early 2021 as he rode to second place Thursday in the Koksijde round of the X20 Trofee.
Van der Poel looked strong in the opening laps of the sandy course on the Belgian coast and launched several attacks as he tried to distance Wout van Aert and others.
Later in the race, he had no answer to Van Aert’s attack on lap four and rode into second place 1:38 behind the Belgian. Van der Poel could be seen stretching his back at times during the latter stages of the race and said the pain flared up from nowhere.
“Yeah, my back hurt a lot today. I don’t know where it came from because the last races it was pretty good actually. I know that it’s a problem I have to work on, and I hope it will be OK on Sunday again,” he said in a post-race flash interview.
Van der Poel has been struggling on and off with back pain since May 2021 when he picked up an injury in a round of the mountain bike World Cup.
He was forced to take a break from racing later in the year after he exacerbated the injury in a crash during the mountain bike race at the Olympic Games. The Dutchman returned to the road for a final flurry of races at the end of 2021.
After delaying his cyclocross season to recover from a separate knee injury he picked up in training, Van der Poel only contested two races last season before the back problems came back. He ultimately sat out the rest of the ‘cross season and delayed his 2022 road campaign to try and recover.
Van der Poel is next scheduled to race at the upcoming round of the World Cup in Zondhoven.