Van der Poel wary of the pressure Van Aert's absence will bring at Tour of Flanders


Van der Poel wary of the pressure Van Aert's absence will bring at Tour of Flanders

Van der Poel is the big favourite for the Tour of Flanders
Van der Poel is the big favourite for the Tour of FlandersAFP
World champion Mathieu van der Poel (29) heads into this year's Tour of Flanders as the huge favourite due to injuries to some of his main threats, but he's not expecting things to be easy nonetheless.

The complexion of what will be the second monument of the season changed when Wout van Aert was ruled out of it after fracturing his collarbone and ribs in a huge crash in the Dwars door Vlaanderen

Van der Poel is somewhat relieved that he opted to skip the race, but isn't happy about the absence of his biggest rival even if it will make his life easier come Sunday.

“It was never on the menu, because the double E3 - Gent-Wevelgem was already hard enough," he said.

"And we will never know if I would have been involved in the crash as well, but it could have been just like that, of course. This is particularly unfortunate for the Ronde, but even more for Wout (Van Aert) and Jasper (Stuyven). Then you live for months towards those important two races and just a few days before, you are sidelined. You really don't wish that on anyone."

The Dutchman is now widely seen as the heavy favourite for the Tour of Flanders, but he thinks that the absence of Van Aert and Stuyven could put him under more pressure, and still sees big threats in the field. 

"I have never made it a secret that I prefer to race with all the top riders at the start. Whether the absence of Wout and Jasper will affect me, you can't predict in advance. Perhaps there will be even more pressure on my shoulders, which doesn't make it any easier," he stated.

"On the other hand, Visma-Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek remain two super strong blocks even without the presence of Van Aert and Stuyven, respectively. (Matteo) Jorgensen, (Tiesj) Benoot, (Mads) Pedersen, (Jonathan) Milan, you name it.

"At least with me, the focus remains the same. I'm just going to do my thing. Winning the Tour of Flanders is never easy and Sunday will be no different. How I'm going to tackle it? I can't say much about that beforehand. It depends on how the race evolves, how the situation is. Of course, I will take my responsibility but as I said: in my opinion, Visma-Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek stay super strong opponents."

Van der Poel himself feels in good shape even if he didn't win his last race prior to the second monument of the season.

"My first win ever in E3 Saxo Classic was a nice one and already gave me the confidence I needed that I'm ready for what's to come," he added.

"Of course, I would also have liked to have won Gent-Wevelgem, but Mads Pedersen was simply the strongest. I didn't have the legs I had on Friday and maybe that wasn't even illogical. But I think I can look back on last weekend positively anyway."


France gouvernement

Les jeux d’argent et de hasard peuvent être dangereux : pertes d’argent, conflits familiaux, addiction…

Retrouvez nos conseils sur (09-74-75-13-13, appel non surtaxé)

Do you want to withdraw your consent to display betting ads?
Yes, change settings