Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) will be back building race form after his abandon at the Tour de France in the second week, with race organisers and his team confirming the Dutch rider will be lining up at Druivenkoers-Overijse.
“Look who’ll be back in action this Wednesday,” said Alpecin-Deceuninck in a social media post announcing a team that included Van der Poel as well as sprinter Jasper Philipsen, who swept up two stages at the Tour de France this year. “We’ve got a strong and motivated team for the Druivenkoers Overijse!”
Van der Poel, who suspects an altitude camp may have hindered his post Giro d’Italia recovery and Tour de France performance, will take on the 192km race in Belgium on August 24 as he works to find his best form for the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia.
He did race some post-Tour criteriums in late July but has not lined up since, with a light race calendar since the Giro d’Italia, including only ten full stages of racing at the Tour de France where he abandoned after being in the break on stage 11.
The World Championships course this year is another that is expected to suit the Classics riders like Van der Poel, Wout van Aert (Belgium) and the winner of the last two titles, Julian Alaphilippe (France), with a heavy dose of short climbs to cause a selection and a technical course.
A number of Van der Poel’s rivals are also likely to be getting in race kilometres at either the Tour of Britain or the one-day Canadian WorldTour races in September – Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal – ahead of the World Championships from September 18 to 25. However Alpecin-Deceuninck isn’t on the start list for either. Other potential early September options on the team’s calendar include the 1.Pro GP de Fourmies on September 8 and the GP de Wallonie on September 14.
The multi-discipline rider has set aside mountain biking this season to focus on the road, and his key goals of the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the World Championships, after having a cyclo-cross season that came to an early end due to his back injury which also delayed his start on the road.
Van der Poel opened up the Giro by winning the first stage and then stood on the stage podium three more times. He then raced the Tour de France which was the first time he had taken on two Grand Tours in the same season. When the Tour de France didn’t live up to expectations his attention turned to the next goal of the World Championships, with Van Aert opting to forgo the European Championships and telling NOS “I hope to be the best version of myself in Australia”.
Racing for Alpecin-Deceuninck at Druivenkoers-Overijse, alongside Van der Poel and Philipsen, will be Dries De Bondt, Silvan Dillier, Senne Leysen, Kristian Sbaragli and Julien Vermote.