The cobbles can’t come soon enough for Mathieu van der Poel.
The Dutch superstar and his Alpecin-Fenix teammates were out scouting several sections of the infamous cobbles of Paris-Roubaix Monday in a 107-kilometer ride through northern France. Van der Poel, 25, is eyeing a full cobbled classics campaign this fall, with return visits to Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem scheduled before a debut at the “Hell of the North” October 25.
Van der Poel and his team shared images on social media of the first day of a week-long team camp which is set to include recons of Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem Tuesday and Wednesday.
While Van der Poel called his ride on the cobbles “First time in hell” on Instagram, his Strava file suggests he took it in his stride, netting a segment record of the cobbled sector of Wannehain and recording a second-fastest time on the Orchies cobbles.
Having seen his grand tour hopes dashed after his team was overlooked for a wildcard slot at the Vuelta a España, and being forced to wait another 12 months to compete at Olympic mountain bike race, the northern classics have become the center of van der Poel’s 2020 season.
Van der Poel took fourth-place in both the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem last year, and the multi-discipline superstar is showing that he has the watts and the skills required to take a step onto the podium of a cobbled classic this fall. He will kick-start his season August 1 at Strade Bianche, followed up by Milano-Sanremo one week later.