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Mathieu van der Poel won’t race mountain bikes at all in 2022.
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup kicked off last month but the multi-disciplined Alpecin-Fenix rider, who is currently racing at the Giro d’Italia, says that he is focusing on his road racing this season.
He’s not leaving mountain biking behind for good and he plans to swap his slicks for knobbies in 2023 when he begins his preparation for the Olympic Games in 2024.
“I’m taking a kind of sabbatical year because my road program is very busy,” Van der Poel told Wielerflits. “In 2023 it is the intention to get back into the mountain bike routine. Then I want to work towards the Olympic Games in Paris.”
Van der Poel hasn’t raced mountain bikes competitively since he took a tumble and was forced to abandon the Olympic Games mountain bike race in Tokyo last August. He had been scheduled to ride the MTB world championships last season but a back injury, which he had picked up at a mountain bike race earlier in the season, forced him to take time out.
He returned to racing shortly before the road worlds in September and had planned a busy cyclocross campaign but was forced to delay it due to a knee injury he sustained in a training crash. His back issues then resurfaced, causing him to stop his CX season after just two races and it would delay the start of his 2022 road season.
After making a surprise return to the road at Milan-San Remo in Mid-March, Van der Poel has had a busy season so far and, after hoping to complete the Giro d’Italia, he is scheduled to ride the Tour de France in July. It leaves little time to switch disciplines, so he’s decided to stick to one thing at a time for now.
Van der Poel’s absence from mountain bike this season won’t affect his potential starting position in the Olympic event in 2024 as it is only the points accrued in the previous 52 weeks that will count toward his ranking or Olympic qualification.