Mathieu van der Poel is currently preparing in La Plagne to blast in the Tour de France in July. Originally he, like Wout van Aert, stood at the start of the Tour of Switzerland to gain some race rhythm. However, that has now been changed. Instead, Van der Poel opts for Dwars door het Hageland (June 10) and the Baloise Belgium Tour (June 14 – 18).
Michel Wuyts told the HLN podcast Wuyts & Vlaeminck that money plays an important role in that choice. “He goes first and foremost for the content, but Golazo is the organizer of both races and they want to give their races more exposure by getting big names at the start.”
“The Baloise Belgium Tour is crying out for big calibers on their start list. If you start there, there’s something in return. That will certainly not be for the heavenly dew.” Remco Evenepoel is also considering participating in the Tour of Belgium after his retirement in the Giro. “There will also be negotiations with him.”
The Tour starts on July 1 with a Grand Départ in Bilbao. During the first three stages, the peloton will travel through the hilly Basque Country where Van der Poel may well be able to take a shot at a stage victory and the yellow jersey. Certainly in the opening stage, which finishes on a slightly ascending stretch of one kilometer, there is an opportunity for Van der Poel, but then he has to cross a few tough climbs.
No problem, Wuyts thinks. “In the stage races, and certainly in the Tour de France, those tough stages are never eaten as heavily as they are presented. They usually ogle at each other and the decision is only made on the final climb.”