All eyes on Mathieu: ‘EK-parcours is Van der Poel written on the body’

Himself he calls it “a round that should lie to me”, connoisseurs label him a top favorite. What is certain is that Mathieu van der Poel has his eyes on him during the road race at the European Championships in Plouay, France

South Limburg landscape

So no flat circulation, with enough climbs to place a demarrage, but no cols of the outdoor category.

“It most resembles a course that you could also set out in South Limburg. And the road surface is also possible to his advantage. The roads in Brittany are not always wide, so you need technique to drive well from the front. And it can still be dirty weather, there on the coast. It’s just really something that’s written all over him.”

“It’s a really tough course, especially when there’s racing.” This could be to the advantage of Van der Poel, who showed that he could always go again during the Amstel Gold Race of 2019.

Growing shape

“That’s where I put Strade Bianche”, Nelissen continues, aiming for the disappointing fifteenth place of Van der Poel in the Italian classic. “But there it was 40 to 45 degrees. I think he has more trouble with that than with rain or cooler conditions. On top of that he took a leak at an unfavourable moment. I think he just has a very good chance of winning the European Championship.”

Good sprinting race

“Those four little climbs can handle Démare and Nizzolo. I think Démare is his biggest competitor, who is in top form, just became national champion of France. Démare and Nizzolo are faster in the sprint.”

The European Championships lack the allure of a World Cup, big round or monument. For that they are simply too short on the cycling calendar, the first edition was in 2016. But Nelissen knows for sure that Van der Poel takes the European showdown very seriously.

“There are no Olympics, he’s not going to the Tour and of the big classics, in which he wants to score, it remains to be seen whether they all go on. Code orange is now popping up everywhere”, says Nelissen.

“If you can grab a European title, you do. Then your year is good. He’s going for it, no doubt about it.”