Candid Van der Poel: “I realize more and more that “stupid” racing sometimes costs me victories” | Extra Time Rate

Sporza reporter Sammy Neyrinck followed Mathieu van der Poel during Paris-Roubaix. The Dutchman put an end to his spring on the cobblestones and spoke very openly about the past few months. “I am mentally fresher, suffering is a bit easier again.”

“People can tell by the way I am sitting next to the bike whether I’m in good shape or not. The way I behave, whether I’m happy or not. If I’m not enjoying myself, that’s usually a sign that I’m on the bike doesn’t run very well.”

Now Van der Poel is clearly enjoying it again. “Yes, you still hear that riders only realize after an injury how much they enjoy cycling and that is correct. I am enjoying cycling and training again. In recent years I lived from race to race and had few training periods I also supported that. But now you notice that now and then a little rest can also turn out well.”

“I am mentally fresher now. Suffering is a bit easier than before.”

And the back? “That will remain a working point for the rest of my career. But I think I came out stronger.”

In recent years I have lived from course to course. Now I have noticed that a rest period can also turn out well. I am enjoying cycling again.

Does he surprise himself again? “If I’m still racing in 10 years, I might kick myself for setting that in motion with that new generation because it’s true that racing is done from very far these days. It’s a nice way , it’s not boring.”

“But it’s more and more about the honors list. I realize more and more that those “stupid” actions, such as that long solo last year in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, are nice, but might cost me the victory.”

“If I had ridden smart, I might have won that race. But my way of racing has also brought me a lot. I probably wouldn’t have won other races if I had raced smart. But the level is now so high that it is almost impossible is to race stupidly. That is punished.”

The years go by quickly, I’ve learned that in the meantime. At the end of my career there will also be a few races that I have not been able to win.

And the balance after Paris-Roubaix? “I must be very happy that I was able to ride such a spring.”

And he also enjoyed his shower. “Last year I couldn’t do that because I had to go to the podium. There are few things in the race that I care about, but the showers in Roubaix are really cool. I hope to win here one day, but there is win always just one person. And the years go by quickly, I have learned that in the meantime. At the end of my career there will also be a few races that I have not been able to win, I am that realistic.”

And now? “The Giro will come soon, but there is a chance to take the pink jersey. I may skip the Dutch championship. That jersey is very nice, but that is not my main goal this year. I want to show beautiful things in the Giro and the Tour and then I focus on the World Cup.”

Talk show in which Ruben Van Gucht keeps his finger on the pulse of cycling news with high-profile guests. José De Cauwer, Dirk De Wolf, Yves Lampaert and Sep Vanmarcke are guests.

watch the full episode on VRT NU