Cycling News

Cancellara’s Classic column: Mathieu van der Poel is human and Lidl-Trek are real contenders

WEVELGEM, BELGIUM - MARCH 24: (L-R) Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team Lidl - Trek celebrates at finish line as race winner ahead of Mathieu van der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin - Deceuninck during the 86th Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields 2024 - Men

The most obvious takeaway from Gent-Wevelgem is that Mathieu van der Poel is human. He was impressive again on Sunday, but in the end, he lost out to Mads Pedersen. That’s a lesson for anybody who thought Mathieu was going to be unbeatable this Spring after his performance at E3 Saxo Classic. He’s not unbeatable. In cycling, and especially in the Classics, nobody is unbeatable.

I don’t think Van der Poel made any big mistakes by going away in that group so far from the finish. It was just that this was more of an endurance race than an attacking race. At E3, there was more of a stop-start rhythm, and he could hurt his rivals with big accelerations in places like the Taaienberg and Paterberg. Gent-Wevelgem was a hard race too, but very different in style. The pace was more regular, but it was a long, long finale. By the end, everybody was running out of fuel, and Pedersen just had a little bit more left.

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