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Mathieu Van der Poel with his father, and former top pro cyclist, Adrie van der Poel in Woensdrecht, the Netherlands, in 2015 (Photo: Cor Vos)

Mathieu van der Poel, the reigning road and cyclocross world champion, knows all about hard work and being single minded in the pursuit of success. And he clearly had a good teacher in his father, Adrie van der Poel, who also won classics and wore the rainbow stripes in his day.

Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) has told a funny story about how his father, a great rival of Sean Kelly, once left him sitting in a car for an hour with a broken collarbone after refusing to end his training session to bring him to hospital.

The father and son duo were cyclocross training at the time, when Van der Poel Jnr was aged 16 years and already a star in the making, winning the junior world title a short time later. Van der Poel Jnr said his father had to complete his training session, leaving his injured son in the car to wait for him.

“I once broke my collarbone when I was sixteen during cross training in Huijbergen,” he told the Live Slow Ride Fast podcast by Laurens ten Dam and Stefan Bolt.

“I broke my collarbone there and my dad put me in the car. And he’s just going to continue his cross training. From the car I always saw them passing by in the woods.

“And I always honked when they passed by. An hour later the training was over and I was still there with my broken collarbone.”

Van der Poel, who beat Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) today to win Zilvermeercross in Mol, said his winter was going much better than 12 months ago and he credited buying a house in Spain as the key to his solid recent training.

He could train from 9am to 4pm, stopping for lunch along the way, and had gotten into a routine staying in the Spanish property that really suited him. He added if someone had told him five years ago he would win as much as he has, he would not believe them.

Having won two world titles this year, as well as Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, he was not sure if he could improve, or even repeat it, though he believed the very longest races were best for him.

“Somehow, races that are much longer 200km suit me just a little better than those races of 200km. I don’t know how that happens either. There is actually no decline for me between kilometres 0 and 260. I think that is just my strength.

“What could I still improve on (2023)? Maybe in climbing, but that is not necessary for me at the moment because I am aiming for the races that suit me best at the moment. And I would rather do that 100 per cent than try to lose a kilo here and there to climb a little better.”

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