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

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Jan 18, 2020
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Van Aert is a physical and mental monster. No question he'll end up with a bigger road palmares than Van der Poel....but here's an interesting fact to consider:

In how many of Van Aert's 10 victories this season, did he outrace Van der Poel?

Answer: none, really.

in 8 of his 10 wins VdP wasn't even present. The remaining two were stage wins in Tirreno (a classic bunch sprint and TT) where VdP didn't bother.

Meanwhile, Van der Poel has directly beaten Van Aert this season to win:

World Championships CX
Strade Bianche
Tirreno uphill sprint
Tirreno Castelfidardo
Mur de Bretagne

Keeping the yellow jersey in the Tdf TT was a moral win for VdP too. Add E3 and Flanders, where he dropped Van Aert, and well; for all Wout's incredible achievements, the 1 vs 1 balance is still heavily in Van der Poel's favour this season.
Nailed it. And then there is the mindbending stuff like '19 AG, SB accelerations, and going full broke for yellow in TDF that just make MVDP "different". The Ayrton Senna of cycling in terms of the sublime talent and ability to pull sh-- off that no one else can.
 
Keeping the yellow jersey in the Tdf TT was a moral win for VdP too. Add E3 and Flanders, where he dropped Van Aert, and well; for all Wout's incredible achievements, the 1 vs 1 balance is still heavily in Van der Poel's favour this season.
Well, it's always been that way. These guys have been racing each other for years in more than one discipline and Mathieu has probably won at least 75% of the time they've gone head to head. In fairness, a lot of that is junior/u23 and they tend to go head to head less frequently in the races/courses that might favor Wout.

I agree with people who think 3 disciplines is too much. He's handling it ok now but I think it's going to catch up to him. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think he can continue it for the next 4 years successfully.
 
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If history is evidence, racers who have combined all three at the highest level pay a dear price for it and have to back off somewhere. It is just a matter of time. It would be better also for his own body's longevity to pace his season better. You can call it him being him, you can call it hubris or the exuberance of youth, but I would rather he back off than not keep racing at the highest level for quite a while. Even if he picks one to dabble just a bit it and not pursue so intensely, it would make a difference.

He also needs to rehab this back issue appropriately. No need to risk further degenerative changes down the road.
 
These threads for one rider are often cathedrals where mostly the believers come to worship and otherwise only a few tourists come to take a look now and then. So it's not exactly a wonder many of you emphasize van der Poel's abilities. But you cannot sell van Aert short like that.

Van Aert is a physical and mental monster. No question he'll end up with a bigger road palmares than Van der Poel....but here's an interesting fact to consider:

In how many of Van Aert's 10 victories this season, did he outrace Van der Poel?

Answer: none, really.

in 8 of his 10 wins VdP wasn't even present. The remaining two were stage wins in Tirreno (a classic bunch sprint and TT) where VdP didn't bother.

Meanwhile, Van der Poel has directly beaten Van Aert this season to win:

World Championships CX
Strade Bianche
Tirreno uphill sprint
Tirreno Castelfidardo
Mur de Bretagne

Keeping the yellow jersey in the Tdf TT was a moral win for VdP too. Add E3 and Flanders, where he dropped Van Aert, and well; for all Wout's incredible achievements, the 1 vs 1 balance is still heavily in Van der Poel's favour this season.
You picked your races and interpretations to your liking. For TA you name the stage that van der Poel won, and say that he didn't bother in the others - why did he not bother? Probably because those were stages he didn't have a good chance at winning anyway: he doesn't like real bunch sprints and he's not great at climbing. You are leaving out results like Prati di Tivo because van der Poel didn't bother, but truth is van Aert is a way superior climber so far.
In Strade van Aert was not in form, he was beaten by van der Poel, but also by Ala and Bernal. In other years he has shown that he can do a lot better at Strade, but he simply took his pause after cx / went to an altitude camp I think afterwards, and wasn't at that level by then - it's not like van der Poel never takes a pause, he just has another time schedule.
In MSR he was ahead of van der Poel again, but that's a race that doesn't count for you, because none of them landed on the first place.
The stages at the Tour where van Aert was not at his best after his surgery/ lack fo training and didn't even seriously contend for the win you take into account, the ones he later won you don't count because van der Poel wasn't there - when actually van der Poel would never have been able to keep up with him on the Mont Ventoux and it's very doubtful if Mathieu would win a tt against van Aert if Wout's really in form. Winning a full on bunch sprint on the Champs-Elysée is also not something that looks to van der Poel's liking so far, sure, not because he doesn't have the sprint, but because he doesn't like the messy side and the positioning, but just as in cx technique is something van der Poel has an edge in over van Aert, this is also an important ability in road cycling.
I don't know how the next years will go and maybe a lot of things will change. But so far you are not doing van Aert justice.
 
Well he's already achieved wins and goals that over 99% of pro cyclists will never reach.
That's not the point. He is also one of the most talented and has more talent than 99 % of the riders. But at the age of 26, with his enormous talent, he should have won a lot more. Especially this year. And there's a reason for that. Combining three disciplines, two of which cannot be combined during the same cycling season. And with the additional consequence structural physical damage. We will compare the results at the end of the career of, for example, Van Aert, Pidcock, Pogacar and Van der poel. I already know the answer regarding Van der Poel. His career will be less impressive than his talent.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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Van Aert is a physical and mental monster. No question he'll end up with a bigger road palmares than Van der Poel....but here's an interesting fact to consider:

In how many of Van Aert's 10 victories this season, did he outrace Van der Poel?

Answer: none, really.

in 8 of his 10 wins VdP wasn't even present. The remaining two were stage wins in Tirreno (a classic bunch sprint and TT) where VdP didn't bother.
Well it's easy to say he didn't 'bother'. WVA is just a better TT'er and sprinter for now so saying MVP didn't 'bother with it' is a weak argument.

Meanwhile, Van der Poel has directly beaten Van Aert this season to win:

World Championships CX
Strade Bianche
Tirreno uphill sprint
Tirreno Castelfidardo
Mur de Bretagne
True, but last year it was the other way around with WVA beating MVP both in Strade as in MSR.
They'll both end up beating each other in numerous races with one taking the upper hand in one season and the other in a next season. I'd personally wouldn't be suprised if WVA beats MVP in the WC this year.

Keeping the yellow jersey in the Tdf TT was a moral win for VdP too. Add E3 and Flanders, where he dropped Van Aert, and well; for all Wout's incredible achievements, the 1 vs 1 balance is still heavily in Van der Poel's favour this season.
I do believe MVP is the bigger talent/rider. But as long as he keeps juggeling 3 disciplines, he woun't be able to be a better road racer because WVA does focus on TT, climbing and sprinting besides his obvious talent for cobble and hilly classics.
 
So when Van Aert wins on the road, it's because he obviously has been focusing on road racing much more. But when Mathieu wins the WCC cyclocross, that argument goes out the window and it is a sign of how superior he is to Van Aert.

But it's indeed easier to cherry-pick the races you want to perform in. "He didn't bother" in all those other races. While Van Aert was fighting Pogacar for GC every day in Tirreno, Van der Poel was saving himself every other day. These comparisons are meaningless without the proper context. Same in the Tour, it's easy to go for broke in week 1, when you know you won't be riding week 2 and 3. Handily forgetting Van Aert had surgery in the middle of his Tour prep.
 
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Tbh I simply don't think Van der Poel is at the same level of talent as Pogacar or van Aert in terms of road cycling specifically.
I was thinking the same but I've never seen any other cyclist that superior on specific occasions. The tour of Britain this year is a good illustration: yes WVA wins but not with a 4sec margin like mathieu was doing 2 years ago on a top Trentin. Same in Strade Bianche, what he did there to Alaf. Whitout speaking of the mur de Bretagne this year... I remember the commentators saying "in the tour with the best you can only use one bullet. Mathieu has to learn it". 15min later the guy killed everybody. Never seen such a margin with WVA, except on the first post covid race of 2020.
 
won
Van Aert is a physical and mental monster. No question he'll end up with a bigger road palmares than Van der Poel....but here's an interesting fact to consider:

In how many of Van Aert's 10 victories this season, did he outrace Van der Poel?

Answer: none, really.

in 8 of his 10 wins VdP wasn't even present. The remaining two were stage wins in Tirreno (a classic bunch sprint and TT) where VdP didn't bother.

Meanwhile, Van der Poel has directly beaten Van Aert this season to win:

World Championships CX
Strade Bianche
Tirreno uphill sprint
Tirreno Castelfidardo
Mur de Bretagne

Keeping the yellow jersey in the Tdf TT was a moral win for VdP too. Add E3 and Flanders, where he dropped Van Aert, and well; for all Wout's incredible achievements, the 1 vs 1 balance is still heavily in Van der Poel's favour this season.
Van der poel was beaten by Van Aert in the Strade Bianche 2020 and in Milano-San Remo. Of course a small detail you forgot.
Van Aert won two stages in the Tirreno, (where was Van der poel then ?) and was second in the general after a general specialist Pogacar.
Van der poel was in topshape at the beginning of the Tour. Van Aert wasn't. Not so difficult to give it all, when you known you will leave the Tour after a few days. Anyway, Vdp was beaten by Van Aert in the timetrial, just for a second or so, but he was. Vdp was dropped by Van Aert in the mountainstage, where Van Aert could hold his second place (after Pogacar). At the end, Van Aert won three stages, Vdp one. And Van Aert won silver at the olympics. And Vdp ? He won gold in the..... diving.
It's a fact Vdp has more explosivity than Van Aert. Van Aert has more endurance and is a bit faster. And he has more perseverance
 
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won
Van der poel was beaten by Van Aert in the Strade Bianche 2020 and in Milano-San Remo. Of course a small detail you forgot.
Van Aert won two stages in the Tirreno, (where was Van der poel then ?) and was second in the general after a general specialist Pogacar.
Van der poel was in topshape at the beginning of the Tour. Van Aert wasn't. Not so difficult to give it all, when you known you will leave the Tour after a few days. Anyway, Vdp was beaten by Van Aert in the timetrial, just for a second or so, but he was. Vdp was dropped by Van Aert in the mountainstage, where Van Aert could hold his second place (after Pogacar). At the end, Van Aert won three stages, Vdp one. And Van Aert won silver at the olympics. And Vdp ? He won gold in the..... diving.
It's a fact Vdp has more explosivity than Van Aert. Van Aert has more endurance and is a bit faster. And he has more perseverance
Unsurprisingly, the reverse is also true for van Aert fans. Whenever Mathieu beats Wout it's always because of "x" excuse, so let's not act like it's only exclusive to Mathieu fans.

Regardless, comparing VdP and Wout in disciplines exclusive to the road where the one is obviously hyper focussed on said terrain and well-trained in a team who invests a lot of capital in maximizing output in said disciplines while the other is either not interested (Mathieu has always maintained that he isn't a climber and wasn't interested in becoming a GC specialist) or has to make choices in order to combine all of the cycling disciplines on different terrains is just silly. Not to mention that tt'ing, longer sprints and climbing (longer climbs) are specifically suited to Wout's talents (sustained efforts).

It would be just as silly to judge Wout's talent vs Mathieu's if the former would suddenly start doing XCO races or purely based on finishes that are explosive (short/steep climbs/sprints) and thus more suited to Mathieu's talents or on impressive solo's or even in CX these past few seasons.

When either Mathieu starts being 100% focussed and dedicated to the road or Wout starts combining the same disciplines as Mathieu does only then can we make a proper comparison between the two. Even then there remains the intrinsic difference in talent between the two; sustained effort vs explosiveness. This difference is highlighted in CX races.

For all of your examples where Wout beat Mathieu there's a plethora of examples where the opposite was true. It's just all silly fanaticism.

They are both amazing talents but once they started racing outside of CX the direct comparison has become fairly moot as there is undoubtedly a trade-off in being focussed on one terrain vs combining different ones.

Let's just enjoy both of their talents while they're still here.

Btw, seems you missed Mathieu's wins in that same Tirreno you speak of.
 
These threads for one rider are often cathedrals where mostly the believers come to worship and otherwise only a few tourists come to take a look now and then. So it's not exactly a wonder many of you emphasize van der Poel's abilities. But you cannot sell van Aert short like that.



You picked your races and interpretations to your liking. For TA you name the stage that van der Poel won, and say that he didn't bother in the others - why did he not bother? Probably because those were stages he didn't have a good chance at winning anyway: he doesn't like real bunch sprints and he's not great at climbing. You are leaving out results like Prati di Tivo because van der Poel didn't bother, but truth is van Aert is a way superior climber so far.
In Strade van Aert was not in form, he was beaten by van der Poel, but also by Ala and Bernal. In other years he has shown that he can do a lot better at Strade, but he simply took his pause after cx / went to an altitude camp I think afterwards, and wasn't at that level by then - it's not like van der Poel never takes a pause, he just has another time schedule.
In MSR he was ahead of van der Poel again, but that's a race that doesn't count for you, because none of them landed on the first place.
The stages at the Tour where van Aert was not at his best after his surgery/ lack fo training and didn't even seriously contend for the win you take into account, the ones he later won you don't count because van der Poel wasn't there - when actually van der Poel would never have been able to keep up with him on the Mont Ventoux and it's very doubtful if Mathieu would win a tt against van Aert if Wout's really in form. Winning a full on bunch sprint on the Champs-Elysée is also not something that looks to van der Poel's liking so far, sure, not because he doesn't have the sprint, but because he doesn't like the messy side and the positioning, but just as in cx technique is something van der Poel has an edge in over van Aert, this is also an important ability in road cycling.
I don't know how the next years will go and maybe a lot of things will change. But so far you are not doing van Aert justice.
I agree with this. However, like I've mentioned before, these comparisons are silly. There are plenty of examples where the one beats the other. The comparisons become especially problematic when we start comparing their wins vs each other on each's favorite terrain or the one that suits the talent of the one over the other. Comparing Wout's wins on longer climbs or tt'ing vs Mathieu is just as silly as comparing them on explosive finishes.

The argument that goes Mathieu's way is that there's no doubt about a trade-off when combining different disciplines vs being focussed on. The difference in teams and goals for said team and how much time/capital/energy is allocated to achieve such goals is also evident.

In any case, Mathieu's choices aren't Wout's fault so he can only focus on his goals and do everything he can to achieve them, and he has done so quite successfully. So kudos to him.

If I'm totally honest I think Mathieu could have had a much better palmares on the road by now if he had put XCO aside. His big goal as far as XCO goes turned into a nightmare and I just can't help but think that it's all been for nothing. He can't properly participate in the xco cups as it stands in the way of his road schedule and has specifically adjusted his xco/road schedule in order to qualify for the xco olympics. Let's see if he changed his mind after that fiasco.
 
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I agree with this. However, like I've mentioned before, these comparisons are silly. There are plenty of examples where the one beats the other. The comparisons become especially problematic when we start comparing their wins vs each other on each's favorite terrain or the one that suits the talent of the one over the other. Comparing Wout's wins on longer climbs or tt'ing vs Mathieu is just as silly as comparing them on explosive finishes.

The argument that goes Mathieu's way is that there's no doubt about a trade-off when combining different disciplines vs being focussed on. The difference in teams and goals for said team and how much time/capital/energy is allocated to achieve such goals is also evident.

In any case, Mathieu's choices aren't Wout's fault so he can only focus on his goals and do everything he can to achieve them, and he has done so quite successfully. So kudos to him.

If I'm totally honest I think Mathieu could have had a much better palmares on the road by now if he had put XCO aside. His big goal as far as XCO goes turned into a nightmare and I just can't help but think that it's all been for nothing. He can't properly participate in the xco cups as it stands in the way of his road schedule and has specifically adjusted his xco/road schedule in order to qualify for the xco olympics. Let's see if he changed his mind after that fiasco.
I don't even want to get drawn into this "x is better, no y is better" discussion, they both have an incredible strength and maybe one is actually more talented overall than the other one, but I don't really care about that because like you say it's hard to actually compare them, and they both are monsters. I just think belittling one of them by stating that the other is far superior overall like some fans do, is, as it stands, not adequate or fair.

How both of them manage to combine the disciplines - even if van der Poel does quite a bit more of that - is astounding.

Very probably van der Poel could have a better road palmares if he focused on it, but on the other hand I wonder if his status as an active cycling legend could be bigger if he did - probably not.
Doing everything for one goal and then see it all go wrong within a moment is probably quite tough, on the other hand I think it's not such a big thing after all. Think of all the athletes who are training and training, over years, for a moment in the Olympics, having to find the money to even be able to train and pay the rent, and then it's all for nothing because they are sick on the day or they make a small mistake in the moment... it's a decision you make, it's the reason why something like an Olympic medal is such a thing for many people. When everything goes well it can look easy, but in many sports it means giving your all for a gamble...
What I want to say, compared to that van der Poel is pretty well off. He's earning very, very good money and just because he had to give up certain goals on the road this year and probably also the years before, he already has a pretty good palmares and his stunt in yellow in the Tour this year for instance, something that looks like a by-product for him, is something most cyclists would consider an incredible dream.

He's also still quite young and if he should decide to focus more on the road, he still has a lot of time to do everything he wants there. I just don't think he will in the next years; I don't see him having the pleasure on the road that he seems to have if he combines the disciplines - but then of course I really don't follow him enough to have a good clue.
 
That's not the point. He is also one of the most talented and has more talent than 99 % of the riders. But at the age of 26, with his enormous talent, he should have won a lot more. Especially this year. And there's a reason for that. Combining three disciplines, two of which cannot be combined during the same cycling season. And with the additional consequence structural physical damage. We will compare the results at the end of the career of, for example, Van Aert, Pidcock, Pogacar and Van der poel. I already know the answer regarding Van der Poel. His career will be less impressive than his talent.
Being (human) athlete is not pure math.. Oskar Svendsen had the best machine, no longer in the game. Young American had good engine too, where he ended up in the mountains climbing alone?

I wish him long and healthy career.
 
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