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Olympics 2021: Mathieu van der Poel officially named in Dutch mountain bike squad

The 26-year-old is one of four Dutch riders hunting medals in the Olympic mountain bike event.

It seemed an inevitability, but Mathieu van der Poel has been officially named as one of four riders heading to Tokyo this summer as part of the Dutch mountain bike squad for the Olympic Games.

Milan Vader is the second male rider selected, with Anne Tauber and Anne Terpstra set to contest the women’s event.

Also read: Mathieu van der Poel confirms he’s ready for Tour de France

Van der Poel is among the favorites for gold in the mountain bike event in Tokyo. He showed Monday that he is in flying form ahead of a big summer of racing with an impressive victory on stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse

“In any case, we can say that these four athletes have achieved a high level in recent years, which other compatriots have not yet been able to match. That high level also gives confidence in the chances of this team,” national coach Gerben de Knegt said.

“I think with Mathieu van der Poel we definitely have a medal candidate for the men’s race, but the other three have also shown in the past that they can participate in a well-filled race with a good day for the podium.”

Van der Poel is due to ride his debut Tour de France, where he is targeting stage victories, before heading out to Japan.

While he intends to complete the French grand tour, van der Poel has signaled that he could leave early if he feels it is impacting his medal prospects in Tokyo.

Also read: Only two World Cups before the Olympics? Mathieu van der Poel says ‘I’ll try to be good on the days that matter’

Due to his road program, van der Poel has had limited racing on his mountain bike this year with just two World Cup events during the spring. His ride at the Albstadt World Cup in May was the first time that he’d raced on his mountain bike since 2019.

“It was really good to be back on the mountain bike, the level I had was acceptable. I did some good results,” van der Poel said ahead of his start at the Tour de Suisse.

“Of course, the preparation was short so now we are here at altitude at La Plagne to prepare for the second half of the season during the summer. I’ll have a good preparation for all of the goals that are coming.”

Van der Poel won the short track event in Albstadt, and finished seventh in the cross-country race, before going on to take victory in the short track at the Nové Město World Cup round and finishing second to Tom Pidcock in the cross-country race.

The Dutchman has said that he will continue to incorporate mountain biking into his race schedule beyond this year’s Olympic Games and will target the competition in Paris 2024.

The Dutch BMX team has also been named with Laura Smulders, Judy Baauw, and Merel Smulders named in the women’s team and Niek Kimmann, Twan van Gendt and Joris Harmsen selected for the men’s squad.