Mathieu van der Poel’s 2020 season was originally supposed to be built around his tilt at mountain bike gold at the Tokyo Olympics, but the Dutchman has confirmed that he is now unlikely to participate in any mountain bike event this year.
The Olympic Games were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the 2020 Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Championships, initially slated for Albstadt, Germany in June, have been rescheduled for Leogang, Austria from October 5-11.
The bulk of the Spring Classics have also been postponed until the Autumn, however, and Van der Poel will thus be in action on the road with his Alpecin-Fenix in October, with Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem taking place on the weekend of October 10-11.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also wiped out most of the Mountain Bike World Cup calendar. Following the cancellation of the Lenzerheide and Les Gets World Cup events, the only cross-country races left on the calendar are the double round in Nové Město in the Czech Republic from September 29-October 4.
“The Mountain Bike World Cup in Les Gets could have been combined with the new road calendar, but Les Gets is also cancelled. Mountain biking won’t happen for me this year,” Van der Poel told Het Nieuwsblad.
“I don't just want to do one race somewhere in between. The switch to mountain biking is the most difficult one for me, and I want to be able to prepare for it at least a little bit.”
Van der Poel won his third cyclo-cross world title in February but the 25-year-old has raced just once on the road thus far in 2020, at the Volta ao Algarve. He is set to return to competition at the Sibiu Tour in Romania (July 23-26) before racing in Italy in August, starting with Strade Bianche.