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Mathieu van der Poel is a generational talent, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show

Joe Robinson
5 Apr 2019

It’s Van der Poel’s world and the rest of the peloton are just living in it

Remember when you played sport as a kid, any sport whether it be cycling, swimming, football or cricket, there would always be that one kid who was so much better than everyone else.

So much better it made the rest of you playing almost pointless. He’d smash every ball for a six, leave your entire defence on their backsides, swim quicker in backstroke than you would in front crawl, ride away from you while laughing and waving.

It was like they were an adult playing against a bunch of toddlers except you were all the same age and you’d all played the same sports for the exact same amount of time.

They just had an innate ability within them to be better than you.

With his rosy cheeks, baby face, spindly limbs, teeny waist and neatly cropped hair, Mathieu van der Poel is currently that kid in the playground.

The one who is just simply better than everyone else at riding his bike. So much better that, in all honesty, it looks like he isn’t even trying at points.

Did you watch Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier this week? The ease in which he won would be giving me sleepless nights if I had any hope of winning the Tour of Flanders this Sunday.

The manner in which he just danced away from the peloton with 60km remaining. The effortlessness in which he followed the wheels of Bob Jungels and Tiesj Benoot when they caught on from the bunch behind.

While Benoot and Jungels were pulling faces of pure agony, trying to stay away from a charging peloton, Van der Poel’s face stayed still, motionless like he was out for a Sunday morning pedal to the shops.

Coming into the final straight, Van der Poel looked like he was merely playing with his rivals. Like the alpha male, he took his place at the front of the reduced group of five and dared them to try and sprint past him.

Anthony Turgis tried but with three stamps on to his pedals, Van der Poel had already caught him and gone around him. Such was his dominance, he could even sit up and celebrate 20m from the line, a little cocky, a lot of confidence.

It’s a familiar sight, this MVDP dominance, any cyclocross fan will tell you that. He's got 32 UCI victories, the national, European and World titles in a season that saw fellow Classics shinning light Wout van Aert chasing Van der Poel’s disappearing tail wherever they raced.

That was also after a brief dalliance with cross-country mountain biking that earned him third at the Worlds, too.

It’s frightening because Van der Poel has only been racing on the road for a couple of weeks. In that time, he has already won two Cobbled Classics, finished fourth in another after crashing at Nokere Koerse - which saw another rider crash into his floor-stricken body at 40kmh - just two weeks ago, not to mention the fact he doesn’t even ride for a WorldTour team yet either.

We tried to act surprised with his results at Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen but honestly, we couldn’t. It was just expected that MVDP would come over to the road and immediately start winning.

It’s why he is joint-favourite to win the Tour of Flanders this Sunday despite it being his first-ever Monument and the first time he will have ever raced over 250km in one day.

It’s why we won't be surprised when he drops everyone up the Paterberg on the second time of asking or even manages to outsprint Peter Sagan in Oudernaarde or even rides away from everyone with 60km left, not to be seen by a soul until his on the podium later that afternoon.

Cycling fans need to take a seat, switch over to Eurosport and begin to enjoy the MVDP show because Mathieu van der Poel is that once in a generation talent and I think we are about to enter a decade of dominance.

And if you don’t believe the hype, if you think this is all just a long love letter that’s neither based on fact or stat, fine, but just watch the video above.

It’s the pointy end of Nokere Koerse. It’s shoulder to shoulder, no-holds barred jostling for a slot at the front of the bunch. You are fully focused on positioning and being at the front because if you’re not, you have no chance of winning.

But not for Matheu, no. For Mathieu, there is no stress because after all it’s just his world and everyone else seems to be living in it.