Mathieu van der Poel enjoying life as a lead-out in Tirreno-Adriatico

 Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) before the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) before the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

As he waits for his road racing form to build to perfection for the cobbled Classics, Mathieu van der Poel has transformed into a hugely effective leadout man for teammate Jasper Philipsen, helping  him win two stages at Tirreno-Adriatico.   

In 2021 van der Poel won two stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico at the start of a hugely successful road season that included a stage and six-day stint in the lead of the Tour de France. This week he never cracked the top 10 but he is not concerned about his form just yet, finding happiness in helping his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates.

The results of UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogačar – so dominant in Paris-Nice – are perhaps give Van der Poel pause for thought for Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders. However, Tirreno-Adriatico proved to be a good week of racing and results for the Dutchman and his team.

He has only been racing for a week and road training for two weeks old, after a break following his fourth UCI Cyclocross World Championships victory.

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“It was quite a hard week of racing, long days on the bike, and I hope it will get me the shape I need to be able to battle for the win in Milan-San Remo,” Van der Poel said on Sunday after celebrating with Philipsen.

The Alpecin-Deceuninck team on paper have two very good prospects for Milan-San Remo with Philipsen also targeting the race if it ends in a sprint.

Van der Poel admitted to having some doubts about his form but he beleives he is not alone in the peloton.

“Everyone has doubts (about their condition) not only me. I worked as good as I could, I’m healthy so I cannot change a lot now before San Remo. You just need a little bit of luck to win the race, so we’ll see,” he said.

Van der Poel worked on his form by working for Philipsen. After a second place to Fabio Jakobsen on stage 2, the pair combined forces in the final kilometre and Philipsen scored a sprint victory in Foligno on stage 3.

After a trio of stages won by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), the overall winner, Van der Poel produced another power surge to delivere Philipsen to a prime position to take the win on the last day in San Benedetto del Tronto.

“We are really happy with the team – two victories here is really nice. I’m starting to enjoy these lead-outs, especially if the sprinter finishes it off,” Van der Poel said.

“It makes the work more important for me. Today I could do my own lead-out again and for me, it’s good to go hard in the final for what’s coming.”