Likening the course of the world road championships to three races, two of which the rider has already won, Dutch national coach Koos Moerenhout has confirmed the selection of Mathieu van der Poel for this month’s race in Wolloongong. He and 2021 runner-up Dylan van Baarle are part of the squad, along with Bauke Mollema, Daan Hoole, Pascal Eenkhoorn, Wout Poels, Jan Maas and Taco van der Hoorn.
‘”Mathieu is a spearhead, but we certainly want to use the strength of the entire team,” Moerenhout said in the team announcement. “As far as you can compare a World Cup course with a classic, it is a mix of the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We have a balanced squad on which we can be competitive on all parts of the course.
“’Making a selection for a world championship in Australia so soon after the Vuelta has been quite a puzzle. But I am convinced that we will travel with a balanced team with which we can stand our ground in the fight for the world title.”
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Initial expectations about the worlds course were that it would be one for the sprinters, but that changed over time. A harder route has instead been confirmed.
That should suit Van der Poel better, and the best possible selection of others on the team was something Moerenhout believes was crucial.
“In recent years, the pace at the World Championships has often been high. In combination with approximately four thousand altimeters, this championship will once again become a battle of wear and tear, especially once we have passed the limit of two hundred kilometers.
“The last climb shortly before the finish invites you to attack. I am happy to have put together a team that will allow us to compete for the win on this difficult course. We travel with confidence and ambition.”
Moerenhout was originally counting on Tom Dumoulin to ride the earlier time trial. However with the Dutchman’s retirement from the sport, he is pinning his hopes on two other riders.
“Daan Hoole has already shown that he can achieve a very high level in the youth categories and can now also compete directly with the best in the world among the pros,” he said. “Bauke Mollema has always been a good time trialist, but has shown a lot of progress this year, which has already led to some very good performances.
“I am curious about his performance at this world championship. So there is also ambition in this area.”
Women aiming to continue superb record
Meanwhile the Dutch squad for the women’s road race is even stronger, with past winners Annemiek van Vleuten and Marianne Vos having a co-leadership role for the event. Between them they have won the title four times. Van Vleuten won this year’s Le Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift, while Vos took two stages plus the points classification.
They will be joined by Demi Vollering, Floortje Mackaij, Ellen van Dijk, Riejanne Markus and Shirin van Anrooij.
National coach Loes Gunnewijk described the road race course as ‘too heavy’ for pure sprinters. She believes the Dutch team has the perfect contenders.
“Annemiek has shown that she can go for the win on both climbing and difficult classic courses. With Marianne Vos we have an asset for the final in which the punchers can come forward more,” she explained. “Although there is an Espoir [under 23] world title to be earned for the first time, we only have the elite title at stake. In the time trial, Shirin van Anrooij can score high in the U23 category, but in the road race I purely looked at the strongest possible group, which we will definitely need in a race that is expected to be difficult to control.
“We have a strong group of riders in house and certainly also candidates to go for the world title.”
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The squad will also target the women’s time trial, with current champion Van Dijk and 2017/2018 winner Van Vleuten joining with Van Anrooij in the competition.
“Ellen and Annemiek have shown in recent years that they can go for gold and that is our commitment now,” Gunnewijk said. “The formidable competition will certainly provide a fierce battle in this discipline.”
Dutch women have won at least one gold in each edition of the worlds since 2017, and will be aiming to do so again.
Its riders will also target the mixed relay race. Van der Poel, Mollema, Hoole, Van Dijk, Van Vleuten and Markus will contest that event.
The world road championships will be held in Wolloongong, Australia, between September 18 and 25.