Van der Poel eyes Liège and Lombardia debuts in 2020

Van der Poel remains 'open to everything' in 2020, with Liège and Il Lombardia now becoming possibilities.

He may have been denied the opportunity to start his first-ever grand tour this year, but Mathieu van der Poel has been quick to identify new ambitions. The Dutchman confirmed Thursday that he was contemplating adding Liège-Bastogne-Liège (October 4) and Il Lombardia (October 31) to his 2020 schedule.

One-day races and Olympic mountain biking had formed the backbone of van der Poel’s goals for the year before the coronavirus pandemic lurched into view. When the postponement of the Olympic Games halted the 25-year-old’s plans for a summer on the mountain bike, his Alpecin-Fenix team tried their luck in the wildcard lottery for Tour de France and Vuelta a España slots. Those hopes of racing over three weeks came to naught, and so now van der Poel is looking to expand his monument program.

“The certainties are Strade Bianche and Milan-Sanremo, after that it will be the great classics, including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix,” van der Poel told WielerFlits Update.

“The Walloon [Ardennes] classics are still a small question mark, but I am also open to that,” he continued. “I am thinking, for example, of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which is a classic that has not played in my mind before the season, but that is now coming into view. We have also discussed the option of Lombardy, if that is possible then I definitely want to try that.”

Van der Poel doesn’t want to confirm a schedule just yet as he and his team wait to watch how the global health situation evolves, and so for now, remains “open to everything.”

One race he has ruled out however, is the Tirreno-Adriatico, September 7-14. Having been denied a run at the Tour, the overlapping Italian stage race is a possibility and would give van der Poel the stage race experience he desires. However, falling just one week before the world championships and three weeks before the October classics makes it a risky proposition.

“We play with the idea that if something happens in the Tirreno, you will be stuck there [if there is a quarantine]. And then you can’t race a single classic,” van der Poel said. “Those are very difficult considerations to make. It will be a special year in that respect.”