Teams & Riders The "MVP" Mathieu Van der Poel Road Discussion Thread

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I think Van Aert is also definitely in his best shape ever during the winter. From memory, it's the first year he is consistently keeping on the bike in the most technical sandy sections, which were one of the lesser goods parts of his cross riding, and to me are indicative he has more watts than ever during this period.
 
...lack of skills training over the last few years...
Then explain how Van Aert, who's been doing significantly less CX for the past 4 years than Mathieu and has significantly less technical baggage, is now making significantly less errors. A guy like Hermans does not do more CX than Mathieu either and has become a road cyclist. Yet it is Mathieu, the technical wunderkind, that is getting stuck, doing headrolls, making technical errors in every race.

It could be pain which is making him uncomfortable on the bike (though the backpain has only flared up the past few races, while he has been bungling races over two weeks ago), it could be that he's physically on the limit and pushed so hard that he starts screwing up. But him, the personification of whatever constitutes the concept of cyclocross, losing skills because he doesn't train enough, while riders with less skills who do even less training, do not suffer of the same, can't be taken seriously.
 
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Skills of Mathieu have not gone anywhere at all, that's a fact. It's just that there has been gap already a while and this gap is growing. It's overall athletic fitness. Wout has done much bigger race program late previous years and training that supports doing big race program. Basic speed for Wout has gotten higher, same with race speed endurance. Result Mathieu trying his all to drop Wout, but not happening.

Everybody who has done cx or xco racing and training, knows how you can excel with your skills up to a limit where you're in your threshold/max long enough. Then you're not that excellent anymore. I believe we're seeing that these days.

It works other way round too. As Wout is more powerful, he can now work at his sustainable race speed with Mathieu, meaning he is not tapped all out hitting those same sand downhills, entering them relaxed and keeping rubber side down.

And lastly Mathieu still trying to much to be a king of the hill too early, he could win more of he could just relax a bit.
 
Skills of Mathieu have not gone anywhere at all, that's a fact. It's just that there has been gap already a while and this gap is growing. It's overall athletic fitness. Wout has done much bigger race program late previous years and training that supports doing big race program. Basic speed for Wout has gotten higher, same with race speed endurance. Result Mathieu trying his all to drop Wout, but not happening.

Everybody who has done cx or xco racing and training, knows how you can excel with your skills up to a limit where you're in your threshold/max long enough. Then you're not that excellent anymore. I believe we're seeing that these days.

It works other way round too. As Wout is more powerful, he can now work at his sustainable race speed with Mathieu, meaning he is not tapped all out hitting those same sand downhills, entering them relaxed and keeping rubber side down.

And lastly Mathieu still trying to much to be a king of the hill too early, he could win more of he could just relax a bit.
To a large extent I believe you’re right in several of your conclusions.

Firstly it’s very hard - not to say impossible - to ride flawlessly and without mistakes when you are at your physical limit for a prolonged time. Basically your finer motorics goes out of the window.

Secondly, having a stronger (aerobic) base makes it possible to recover faster during a race and in between races. Van der Poel looked sharp in eg Antwerpen but with lots of races he didn’t seem able to recover completely. Further within a race he couldn’t recover after his initial surges that were intended to break Wout and distance him to then ride within his limits.

Thirdly there is a physical interplay with mental status. When you are able to drop your opponents and ride away it’s a completely different feeling than having to go all in just to hang on to the wheel in front of you. It hurts, physically.

I hope Mathieu focus on the WC, gets his base in place and his back problems sorted out and then comes to Hoogerheide at his very best… and WINS! I still see him as the all time greatest CX rider.
 
Skills of Mathieu have not gone anywhere at all, that's a fact. It's just that there has been gap already a while and this gap is growing. It's overall athletic fitness. Wout has done much bigger race program late previous years and training that supports doing big race program. Basic speed for Wout has gotten higher, same with race speed endurance. Result Mathieu trying his all to drop Wout, but not happening.
I believe you have struck the essence of the dilemma for MvdP, namely that over the last couple of years at Jumbo-Visma Wout has raised his game so much (meaning higher base and top-end condition) that he has out-classed Matthiew in sheer athletic prowess. Consider van Aert winning the double-Ventoux stage at the Tour 2020 or breaking Pogacar working for Vingegaard in the Pyrennes this past Grand Bouclé. Those performances, for a non-climbing specialist, reflect just how sophisticated Jumbo-Visma is in preparing their riders to reach another level and get the highest performances out of themselves.

Apart from his back problems, MvdP at Alpecin-Phoenix hasn't been on a team that's worked on collectively winning Yellow and developed into replacing Sky-Ineos as cycling's powerhouse squadra. For this reason his level hasn't risen to the extent Wout's has and so now he's suffering to hold his wheel and getting dropped.
 
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No way MVDP has suddenly lost his technical skill or confidence. Certainly seemed to be going full gas on the technical downhills at Gavere and Zolder - and gaining seconds on Wout in the process - or at Loenhout where he was taking time out of Wout in and out of corners. But that all goes completely out the window if you have a questionable back - like at Koksidje and Zonhaven. If he can somehow increase his fitness in Spain (and the week after), and "rest" his back at the same time (meaning stay on the road completely), I see him winning in Hoogerheide. He's obviously not the most strategic guy in the world, but he is a pure winner and feeds off emotion. If he gets to the starting line with a good feeling in at the WC's, I wouldn't bet against him. He obviously hates losing (meaning not winning) and he will be jacked up to the hilt to win. And throughout his career he has shown the ability to go extremely deep when he sniffs a win.
 
MvdP has back issues...when my back is in pain I don't move around as easily as I do when pain free. CX racing requires the most body movement of any cycling discipline. That, plus the fact that Wout has a bigger engine is why MvdP is crashing so much. If Wout wasn't in the race, we'd be saying MvdP is back to his best because he's winning all these races instead of him finishing 2nd a bunch of times.

The only way MvdP is going to get stronger is to work on his cycling base, his core work, and don't race so much. Each time he races too much he screws his back up again and he weakens. They need to fly him to these big one day races fresh and without back fatigue. He needs a couple days of intensity per week, say Tuesday and Saturday, and the rest just base miles to work on his aerobic engine.
 
So the secret is to join UAE and become a domestique for Pogacar.
Not that far from the truth. There's history to be seen that many good one day racers are made from good GT results and/or big GT workload. WVA has shown kinda humbleness and team spirit; one for all, all for one, despite being superstar himself. Huge workload in those big and medium stage races, giving help and same time building himself. I dunno about Mathieu, is he too big already, not flexible, is it even too late for him for this kind of process?
 
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Not that far from the truth. There's history to be seen that many good one day racers are made from good GT results and/or big GT workload. WVA has shown kinda humbleness and team spirit; one for all, all for one, despite being superstar himself. Huge workload in those big and medium stage races, giving help and same time building himself. I dunno about Mathieu, is he too big already, not flexible, is it even too late for him for this kind of process?
Mathieu also rode for his team mates when he knew he doesn't have a chance in winning
 
You mean his 500m pulls for bunchsprints? Because I can't think of anything else. That's not really a big workload now, is it?
You think he showed too little effort in the Giro? It doesn't matter that he did it for himself, he still did an amazing amount of work.

There's no logic in this thread, 'Van der Poel does too much' vs. 'Van der Poel does too little'. Now what is it?
 
Then explain how Van Aert, who's been doing significantly less CX for the past 4 years than Mathieu and has significantly less technical baggage, is now making significantly less errors. A guy like Hermans does not do more CX than Mathieu either and has become a road cyclist. Yet it is Mathieu, the technical wunderkind, that is getting stuck, doing headrolls, making technical errors in every race.

It could be pain which is making him uncomfortable on the bike (though the backpain has only flared up the past few races, while he has been bungling races over two weeks ago), it could be that he's physically on the limit and pushed so hard that he starts screwing up. But him, the personification of whatever constitutes the concept of cyclocross, losing skills because he doesn't train enough, while riders with less skills who do even less training, do not suffer of the same, can't be taken seriously.
You're completely misunderstanding my point; Wout has a low skill ceiling, so has little skills to lose, he's very rarely won races by his skills alone. As long as he's in form, his power wins him races. The whole point of having skills is so a rider can perform them when under pressure. Somebody like Nino has spent a career winning races due to his skills, when under pressure; when he's on form Mathieu is perfectly fine with his skills - currently he's not on form, as is making silly mistakes.

It's obvious this forum is a road biased one, as many people don't understand the technical element of CX, and comment as if it's purely a Road race.
 
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You're completely misunderstanding my point; Wout has a low skill ceiling, so has little skills to lose, he's very rarely won races by his skills alone. As long as he's in form, his power wins him races. The whole point of having skills is so a rider can perform them when under pressure. Somebody like Nino has spent a career winning races due to his skills, when under pressure; when he's on form Mathieu is perfectly fine with his skills - currently he's not on form, as is making silly mistakes.

It's obvious this forum is a road biased one, as many people don't understand the technical element of CX, and comment as if it's purely a Road race.
Well, as to your final statement, this is posted on a thread in the Road Race subforum, not the Cyclocross subforum.
 
You're completely misunderstanding my point; Wout has a low skill ceiling, so has little skills to lose, he's very rarely won races by his skills alone. As long as he's in form, his power wins him races. The whole point of having skills is so a rider can perform them when under pressure. Somebody like Nino has spent a career winning races due to his skills, when under pressure; when he's on form Mathieu is perfectly fine with his skills - currently he's not on form, as is making silly mistakes.

It's obvious this forum is a road biased one, as many people don't understand the technical element of CX, and comment as if it's purely a Road race.
:tearsofjoy:

Yeah, i've only watched about a thousand CX races, but i'm glad that you are here to tell me how it all works.

You are making stuff up. Mathieu is not losing races because his top-end skills have started to wither. He is losing races because he is screwing up basic skills. Obviously this is not due to not training enough, since he has been training/riding more CX over the past 4 years than Wout. When he's screwing up the basics, it's because he is pressured and forced to the limit.
 
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While it is clear that MvdP is a better technical CX rider than WvA, low skills is harsh. Did he not have the cleanest ride out of the entire field for Zonhoven?
This year WVA has looked rock solid in terms of his technical abilities. Not so much when you watch other seasons. Physical prowess goes hand in hand with the ability to perform at your technical best and this year Wout clearly has got it right. Last year also looked good but we never got see any real showdown between them that season.

Going further back WVA had his injuries so we have to go back to the seasons 2014/15 - 2017/18 to really match these two. I cannot recall every race but whilst WVA seemed (already then) to have the better endurance MVDP clearly was the better technically. MVDP jumped barriers faster/better, gained seconds on corners and could descend quicker and with greater accuracy. Yet Wout wasn't no pushover. Just like all of the other top CX riders he had excellent abilities.

This season - as pointed out already - it looks like WVA has upped his physical level, hence putting more pressure on Mathieu. Most likely he is riding more within his physical limits and has consequently less mistakes.
 
Wout has a low skill ceiling, so has little skills to lose, he's very rarely won races by his skills alone.
While it is clear that MvdP is a better technical CX rider than WvA, low skills is harsh. Did he not have the cleanest ride out of the entire field for Zonhoven?
Let's put it this way:

Regarding special tricks - f.e. bunny hopping, wheelies, slipping rear wheels on purpose - Wout doesn't really stand out but he isn't below average either. However, when it comes to the essentials of CX technique - choosing lines, cornerning, attacking hills, sand, ... - he was always among the best besides Mathieu. In combination with his incredible physique, he's usually the dominant factor in hard mud and running sections.
 
MvdP has back issues...when my back is in pain I don't move around as easily as I do when pain free. CX racing requires the most body movement of any cycling discipline. That, plus the fact that Wout has a bigger engine is why MvdP is crashing so much. If Wout wasn't in the race, we'd be saying MvdP is back to his best because he's winning all these races instead of him finishing 2nd a bunch of times.

The only way MvdP is going to get stronger is to work on his cycling base, his core work, and don't race so much. Each time he races too much he screws his back up again and he weakens. They need to fly him to these big one day races fresh and without back fatigue. He needs a couple days of intensity per week, say Tuesday and Saturday, and the rest just base miles to work on his aerobic engine.
I'm not really sure what "bigger engine" means. Bottom line is that MVDP is a better cyclocross rider than Wout. And when both are in top form he will win. I also don't buy that Wout has a bigger engine on the road. Again, when MVDP is fully healthy and rolling he is extremely hard to beat in races like SB or RVV or PR (if he ever makes it to the line there healthy). Folks are getting a bit ahead of themselves with the idea that Wout is now somehow unbeatable. If he really is, my question is how did he get there exactly? I don't buy all the "marginal gains" stuff that teams like JV and Ineous and US Postal sell. To suggest that MVDP and his team don't understand very basic training principles like periodization, intensity, recovery, etc. is a bit of a stretch. I do agree that MVDP is now in a bit of vicious cycle with this back. I just don't think it's in his nature to compromise, and that is costing him now a bit. The guy obviously loves to race and hates to lose - especially to Wout, someone he has measured himself against since he was 12 or whatever - and generally has always had the upper hand against. My prediction (as a fan) is that he gets himself together and finds a way to get the start at Hoogerheide ready to win.
 
Well, "marginal gains" or not, it's been proven time and time again that some teams have better coaching, nutritinal guidance, material etc. and thus improve their riders compared to the teams they come from - the riders themselves say/said so, and I guess we should really belive it coming "straight from the horse's mouth".

In that sense, I'm pretty sure Alpecin is a lighter setup than Jumbo, giving Van Aert better conditions overall. Not that it has anything to do with VDP's back issues, though.
 
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Well, "marginal gains" or not, it's been proven time and time again that some teams have better coaching, nutritinal guidance, material etc. and thus improve their riders compared to the teams they come from - the riders themselves say/said so, and I guess we should really belive it coming "straight from the horse's mouth".

In that sense, I'm pretty sure Alpecin is a lighter setup than Jumbo, giving Van Aert better conditions overall. Not that it has anything to do with VDP's back issues, though.
It does in the sense of how you treat that condition/injury. You can go with the traditional "rest/ice/stretch/strengthen " or you can look at cutting-edge/alternative methods. A team like Ineos (who would be GREAT for MvdP -- he and Pidcock would make a great multidiscipline subteam) has more resources to throw at the problem than does Alpecin.
 
I'm not really sure what "bigger engine" means. Bottom line is that MVDP is a better cyclocross rider than Wout. And when both are in top form he will win. I also don't buy that Wout has a bigger engine on the road. Again, when MVDP is fully healthy and rolling he is extremely hard to beat in races like SB or RVV or PR (if he ever makes it to the line there healthy). Folks are getting a bit ahead of themselves with the idea that Wout is now somehow unbeatable. If he really is, my question is how did he get there exactly? I don't buy all the "marginal gains" stuff that teams like JV and Ineous and US Postal sell. To suggest that MVDP and his team don't understand very basic training principles like periodization, intensity, recovery, etc. is a bit of a stretch. I do agree that MVDP is now in a bit of vicious cycle with this back. I just don't think it's in his nature to compromise, and that is costing him now a bit. The guy obviously loves to race and hates to lose - especially to Wout, someone he has measured himself against since he was 12 or whatever - and generally has always had the upper hand against. My prediction (as a fan) is that he gets himself together and finds a way to get the start at Hoogerheide ready to win.
What bigger engine means, is that when it comes to raw power and prolonged efforts, that Wout has historically wiped the floor with Mathieu. That's where that comes from. Courses with heavy mud where you don't get any rest? Wout wins by a landslide 9 out of 10. Despite his weight, he also outclimbs Mathieu in mountain stages and it's not even remotely close. Same story, prolonged efforts. So i'm a bit baffled by the played ignorance in your post.

Where Mathieu historically has wiped the floor with Wout, however, is races with high interval, short bursts of high intensity. Meaning races like Flanders, and 80% of all CX races, which are nothing but a series of 10-15 second efforts, slowing down, accelerating again hundreds of times per race. This is clearly Mathieu's territory and add to that his natural gift of superior technique, which enables him to take every obstacle, corner and hurdle at a higher speed, making it a double whammy, since not only is he physiologically better suited to the stop and go type efforts in CX, he also doesn't need to dig as deep because he doesn't have to slow down as much as a technically less gifted rider, who then again has to make up those meters he lost in a technical section on top of that.

For a diehard Mathieu fan, either you don't seem to know him as well as one would assume or you keep underestimating Van Aert (or basically everybody else).
 
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You think he showed too little effort in the Giro? It doesn't matter that he did it for himself, he still did an amazing amount of work.
Exactly! All those attacks in the Giro ruined the rest of his summer road season. Mathieu has a weak back and it can't take all those pointless attacks. Maybe he'll learn when he gets a little older and wiser. Maybe he needs some kids so he can get those dad watts like Wout. ;)
 
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Well, "marginal gains" or not, it's been proven time and time again that some teams have better coaching, nutritinal guidance, material etc. and thus improve their riders compared to the teams they come from - the riders themselves say/said so, and I guess we should really belive it coming "straight from the horse's mouth".
Obviously some teams will be better in these areas than others, but the last ones who we should believe about it are the current riders for the team. For one, they will never say the opposite: that the training, etc., was better at their previous squad.

And there is a certain amount of confirmation bias: if things are going better for whatever reason (could be just natural growth/progression as a rider, or an injury clearing up, or better equipment, or some combination), everything will "be better" with the new team.
 
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