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Van der Poel’s 2020 grand tour dream in doubt

Van der Poel's aim to race the Vuelta a Espana in 2020 put in peril as race organizer reveals his need to prioritze Spanish teams for wildcard slots.

Mathieu van der Poel may have to make do with just ‘cross, spring classics, and the Olympic mountain bike race for 2020.

Despite having made clear his ambition to make his grand tour debut at the Vuelta next year, it’s looking likely that van der Poel and his Corendon team won’t be granted the wildcard slot they need to start the Spanish tour.

“I only have two wildcards, while there are three Spanish ProContinental teams,” said Vuelta director Javier Guillén. “It is almost impossible to invite Corendon-Circus.”

Guillén spoke to Dutch website Wierlflits, Monday.

The 2020 WorldTour is made up of 19 teams, one more than in 2019, the result of a wave of UCI reforms. As a consequence of that, grand tour organizers can only offer three wildcard slots to second-tier ProTeams, with Total Direct Energie receiving one automatically as a result of their placing in the 2019 rankings. The result? Only two slots to play with.

The Spanish race will reveal its full route Tuesday, but it is already confirmed that the race will start in Utrecht. Having superstar van der Poel on the start line would have been a sure-fire tactic of guaranteeing home crowds turning out to support their local hero.

“I am very honored that a world-class rider like Mathieu van der Poel wants to start in the Vuelta a España,” Guillén said. “Van der Poel is not only a reference in contemporary cycling, he also brings a spectacle.”

However, with Spanish teams having to take priority, Guillén almost has no choice but to select two Spanish teams for the wildcard slot, denying van der Poel and his Corendon teammates.

If Guillén remains true to his word, van der Poel may have to make do with only a ‘cross world title defense, a tilt at the spring classics, and a bid for Olympic Gold in 2020. Only.