OKBET CYCLING | Mathieu van der Poel’s inclusion on the Giro del Veneto roster came as a “little surprise”
Giro del Veneto : After a long day of racing at the UCI Gravel World Championships on Sunday, Mathieu van der Poel and his Alpecin-Deceuninck colleague Gianni Vermeersch rolled through Piazza Libertà in Bassano del Grappa on Monday to begin their recovery.
Both Van der Poel (bronze medalist) and Vermeersch (new world champion) plan to remain in the Veneto region until Friday, when they will be the main draws in the Serenissima Classic, the only gravel event designed particularly for professional road cyclists.
But Van der Poel isn’t known for being idle for long. Rather than spend his time on leisurely training rides through the Brenta valley’s rustling leaves, the Dutchman decided to compete instead. On Wednesday, he’ll be racing on the road in the Giro del Veneto, the first of three events in Filippo Pozzato’s Ride the Dreamland series.
Van der Poel’s late decision to join the team was described as a “little surprise” by Alpecin-Deceuninck when they revealed their lineup on Tuesday. He’ll be joining a formidable team that already includes the 2021 champion Xander Meurisse and the two-time Vuelta a Espaa stage winner Jay Vine. In addition to Nicola Conci and Kristian Sbaragli, the May Giro d’Italia stage winner Stefano Oldani is included.
Since his unfortunate journey to the World Championships in Australia, when he was convicted for common assault after a confrontation with two young females in his hotel on the night of the race, Van der Poel has not competed on the road.
Van der Poel had been in fine form leading up to the Worlds, having won the Grand Prix de Wallonie, the Izegem Koers, and the Stadsprijs Geraardsbergen in that order. He also showed his mettle at Sunday’s inaugural Gravel World Championships, where he placed third in a sprint after opting not to chase his trade teammate Vermeersch in the winning break.
Thanks to his recent success, Van der Poel is the clear favorite for Wednesday’s race, which should be more competitive thanks to the change in course design from last year. At 2021, the race concluded in Padova’s expansive Prato della Valle; this year, the race will begin there. The course is little under 160 kilometers long and takes riders through the Colli Euganei and around Vicenza twice.
The finish line is located on Vicenza’s central Corso Palladio, and each lap begins with a climb to Arcugnano and a descent past the Santuario della Madonna di Monte Berico (the 2015 Giro d’Italia took up the peak from the other side).
Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), who finished second to Meurisse in Padova last year, will likely perform well again this year. Marc Hirschi, Davide Formolo, Alessandro Covi, and Diego Ulissi round up a formidable Italian lineup.
Although fan favorite Samuele Battistella has ended his season, the Astana Premier Tech squad still has Miguel ngel López on hand. In addition, Davide Rebellin competes in the next-to-last race of his 30-year career. On Sunday, the Italian will have his last race of the season at the Veneto Classic.
Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal) is out injured, but the peloton still features Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Alessandro De Marchi, Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni).
Although the WorldTour relegation scenario is mostly determined at this point, there are still victories to be had and drama to be followed in these last days of the road season. As usual, Van der Poel provides an engaging story.
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