DUTCH champion Mathieu van der Poel who won yesterday's Superprestige race in Hoogstraten, let it be known last week that he intends to aim for selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics in mountain biking. Today his Monday recovery ride was on a fat bike.
The twenty-one-year-old intends to carry his cyclocross form into his first mountain bike race of 2016 very soon by contesting the Cyprus Sunshine Cup which consists of a four-day stage race and a single-day race all held between February 25th and March 6th. The stage race attracted 95 elite men last year and the UCI class it in the highest points scoring category in mountain biking.
BKCP-Corendon boss Christoph Roodhooft told the press last week that, "Mathieu is also in the Dutch pre-selection for the Olympic road race, but selection will be a battle against riders from the World Tour. Selection for mountain biking seems a more realistic option."
In previous summers Van der Poel has raced a road program with his BKCP-Corendon team including races such as the Tour of Belgium, Tour Alsace, Baltic Chain Tour and the Tour de L'Avenir. His first elite victory on the road was in June 2014 in the Ronde van Limburg and that summer he went on to win the UCI 2.2 Baltic Chain Tour overall. 2015 was slightly less successful summer for Mathieu although he placed fourth in the short Tour de L'Avenir prologue and second on another stage.
It seems that Van der Poel has been riding a mountain bike quite regularly especially on his post-race recovery rides although the bike below seems as un-cross-country-like as the fat bike!
Cyclocross skills are of course transferable to mountain biking. Sven Nys competed for Belgium in mountain biking at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics and at one time it was thought that he might want to carry on for Rio. Nys finished ninth in Beijing and also won the Belgian national championship five times.
Main image courtesy of Mathieu van der Poel