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Still no cycling for Mathieu van der Poel as classics countdown begins

Dutch star still not training as back problem persists, father Adrie pushes back against idea 'MvdP' is over-raced and under-rested.

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If you feel guilty about spending this weekend slouched on the couch, don’t worry, Mathieu van der Poel did, too.

Van der Poel’s father Adrie revealed this weekend that “MvdP” is still laid up as his back problems persist.

“He’s doing OK. He may cycle again when he is pain-free. But right now he’s just sitting at home on the couch,” Adrie told Het Laatste Nieuws on Sunday. “There is not much he can do. He has been prescribed strict rest and must adhere to it.”

Van der Poel has been out of action since the start of this month.

The back pains that plagued him through the summer, and hit a high point after his cartwheeling Olympic crash became so serious over recent months that van der Poel’s crew pulled the plug on all racing.

Van der Poel’s ‘cross world title defense was canceled, and no timeline was put on a possible return.

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Suffice to say, van der Poel won’t be watching the racing in Fayetteville this weekend as he misses the worlds for the first time since he beat archrival Wout van Aert in the juniors in 2012.

“Of course, it remains a pity for cycling that it will be a world championship without Mathieu and Wout,” Adrie said. “I don’t think Mathieu will watch it. Hopefully, he will be able to ride some bikes by then.”

With less than four weeks until the “opening weekend” of the classics, it remains to be seen whether van der Poel will be on the start line for the curtain-raising Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 26.

And was it van der Poel’s stacked schedule of cyclocross, mountain biking and road racing that caused the persistent back pain in the first place?

Adrie pushed back against the theory of his son’s physio David Bombeke, who had recently suggested that van der Poel’s relentless schedule led to an overuse injury.

“Whether it is a result of his busy schedule with different disciplines? If you know the real cause, then you also know that things like that don’t play a role,” Adrie told Dutch outlet BN de Stem in a separate interview Saturday. “Everyone has an opinion about it, ‘he does too much, he does too little.’

“You should also look at what kind of falls he has had in recent years,” van der Poel continued. “His way of racing is demanding, but don’t bring it up that he has raced too much. I don’t think he’s done 60 races a season in the last 10 years.”