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‘I can’t win every race’ – Mathieu van der Poel meets his match at Gent-Wevelgem

WEVELGEM BELGIUM MARCH 24 LR Mathieu van der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin Deceuninck Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team Lidl Trek and Laurence Pithie of New Zealand and Team Groupama FDJ compete in the breakaway passing through the Plugstreets during the 86th GentWevelgem in Flanders Fields 2024 Mens Elite a 2531km one day race from Ieper to Wevelgem UCIWT on March 24 2024 in Wevelgem Belgium Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mathieu van der Poel wasn’t exactly overselling the significance of Gent-Wevelgem when he rolled into the mixed zone in the Grote Markt in Ypres on Sunday morning. “It’s not super important,” the man of the moment conceded, mindful that the success or failure of his Spring campaign is tallied purely in Monument wins.

Still, Van der Poel rarely, if ever, turns up at a race simply to ride around, and after cruising to E3 Saxo Classic victory on Friday, he was the overwhelming favourite to annex another Classic here. “I mean, I will not win every race there is on the calendar,” Van der Poel protested before he made his way to the start line.

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