Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu Van der Poel has started the Giro d'Italia in superb form, winning the stage 1 hill top finish and finishing second on the punchy stage 2 time-trial, ensuring he will keep the Maglia Rosa until the Giro goes to Etna on stage 4. The Dutch superstar finished his classics season on April 18th with Paris-Roubaix, after which he took a four day break, according to Strava. Van der Poel is practically the only superstar who publishes on Strava all his races, training, heart rate and power data. Previously we analysed his preparation for Milano-Sanremo, as he was recovering from a back injury. In this article we will look at how he prepared for the Giro d'Italia as well as his performance in the opening two stages.
It will be hard to beat the hot and dry Paris-Roubaix 2022, in our view the most exciting race of 2022 so far. INEOS made the race very hard from the beginning, putting pressure on big favourites Van Aert and Van der Poel, who were sleeping in the peloton, while the big split happened in the crosswinds. Everything came back together and in the end only the strongest riders made the split after Jumbo-Visma's acceleration with just over 50km to go. Dylan van Baarle was once again left to bridge to a dangerous move, joining Mohoric and Lampaert then dropping them, giving INEOS the first Paris-Roubaix victory in the team's history. This was also the fastest ever edition of the legendary race, where so many things happened that it is worth watching almost from the beginning.
No one thought at the start of March that Mathieu van der Poel would have made this impressive a come back in Milano-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders, considering his back problem and missed training kilometres in the winter. However in a perverse way, the enforced rest, during his usual cyclocross schedule, probably made his incredible victory at Flanders possible. The Dutchman was the only one able to stay with Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar on the short Flandrian climbs and then produced his typical 15s power to win the final sprint. Let's look at van der Poel's and other riders' power from the big race.
Ronde van Vlaanderen 2022 did not disappoint despite the absence of Belgian champion Wout van Aert. Tadej Pogačar is not a regular Tour de France champion, who just targets one big race a year, with the Slovenian showing his punch on the short Belgian cobble climbs, creating multiple splits throughout the day. Only Mathieu van der Poel could hold his wheel in the finale as the race ended with a sprint from a standing position between the Dutchman and Slovenian. As Van der Poel and the Slovene finessed, Maduoas and van Baarle returned from behind, boxing in Pogačar in the last 200 metres, whilst van der Poel opened up a huge sprint to win his second Ronde van Vlaanderen. The frustrated Pogačar only finished 4th as he was surpassed by Dylan van Baarle and Valentin Madouas who took podium honours.
Mathieu van der Poel won the hard and hilly Dwars Door Vlaanderen race on Wednesday, showing great shape in advance of his bid for the Ronde van Vlaanderen this weekend. The Dutch superstar since his return from a back injury has uploaded every ride on Strava and is basically the only superstar rider who shares his power and heart rate data publicly in 2022. Let's dissect Van der Poel's powerful win.
The Dutch superstar Mathieu van der Poel warmed up for Ronde van Vlaanderen with the hard and hilly Dwars door Vlaanderen. Van der Poel made the first group after INEOS blew up the peloton and in the last part of the race closed down many attacks. The Alpecin-Fenix superstar followed Tiesj Benoot's late acceleration and convincingly beat Jumbo-Visma rider in the final sprint, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen for the second time after 2019.
Matej Mohorič, taking every possible risk on the Poggio descent, gaining a few valuable seconds. Unsurprisingly, the big stars did not cooperate well behind him, as Mohorič soloed to become the first Slovenian to ever win Milano-Sanremo.
One of the most talented riders of the modern generation, Mathieu van der Poel, will start his season earlier than expected at Milano-Sanremo, the longest race on the UCI calendar. The Alpecin-Fenix star has had rapid improvement in the space of an eight week training block after rehabbing a back injury and has (fortunately for us) uploaded every training ride on Strava with power and heart rate data.