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Van der Poel eyes Tour-Vuelta double if racing resumes

Van der Poel's Tour de France ambitions take a front seat now Olympics are off the agenda for 2020.

Mathieu Van der Poel has never started a grand tour. The Dutch star is now hoping to race two in 2020 — if racing resumes later this summer.

With the 2020 Olympic Games postponed for at least a year with the global coronavirus crisis, stakeholders are planning on resuming racing with a heavily loaded fall men’s calendar that could include all three grand tours as well as the major one-day classics. Van der Poel said he’d like to race the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.

“I have it in mind to race the Tour-Vuelta double,” Van der Poel told VTM TV this weekend. “It makes sense with the new dates of the Tour, and the cancelation of the Games. We’ll have to see what the sponsors say. It might mean that I might have to reduce my cyclocross schedule.”

Alpecin-Fenix would need wild-card invitations to both races to have a chance to race a grand tour this year. With so much disruption surrounding coronavirus, race organizers are already mulling having additional teams and perhaps smaller rosters to help fill out the peloton.

“It would be nice if we could get a wild-card invitation for a grand tour,” team manager Christoph Roodhooft told Sporza. “Because all the races are moved to autumn, there will be some overlap, and there could be a place in one of the grand tours. The ideal would be the Tour.”

With the Olympics on hold until 2021, the possibility of racing the Tour this year takes new urgency. Team officials want the Games to be the center of Van der Poel’s calendar next year. While the Tour-Olympic double was logistically possible this year before coronavirus stopped racing, the combination is off the agenda in 2021, with the re-scheduled Tokyo Games overlapping the Tour by three days.