Mathieu van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team could be racing a packed road season that includes monuments, stage races, and grand tours. However, the newly-rebranded Dutch outfit, formerly Corendon-Circus, may be left picking for scraps.
Alpecin-Fenix announced their racing plans for 2020 at a presentation Friday, with Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Vuelta a Espana all possibilities. However, given the team is racing at the second-division ProTour (formerly Pro Continental) level, they will be fighting for their start slots in the wildcard selection process.
Currently, the plan is for van der Poel to transition out of ‘cross season and a defense of his rainbow jersey in Switzerland, February 2, take a month breather, then be back in action on the road at Strade Bianche, March 7.
After the dirt roads of Strade Bianche, the next six weeks could see van der Poel racing Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Amstel Gold along with a handful of semi-classics. All these road appearances come with the big caveat of ‘subject to wildcard invite’ as the team waits on the selectors’ decisions.
All that is certain of the spring road campaign is that Alpecin-Fenix will ride the seven-day Volta a Catalunya March 23-30, which they have already received the necessary invite for.
Once the Ardennes classics have passed, which could see van der Poel returning to defend his breathtaking victory from Amstel Gold Race 2019, the 24-year-old will switch to the mountain bike. World cup rounds and the world championships will serve as stepping stones to his main target of the year – the mountain bike race in the Tokyo Olympics.
From there, a possible return to the road, however as with the spring campaign, this is still full of uncertainty.
Alpecin-Fenix has made clear its ambition to race the Vuelta a Espana, and initially looked a good bet for selection given the grand tour’s three-day start in Utrecht, the Netherlands. However, race director Javier Guillén has recently indicated that Spanish teams would be given priority in the allocation of wildcard invites and so the Dutch team’s hopes are fading.
Whether van der Poel ends up on Roubaix’s cobblestones in April and the Spanish mountains in September or not, you can be sure he’ll be bringing sparkle to the season one place or another.