UAE Tour – Mathieu van der Poel: I think my cyclocross form made me a winner today
Feb 22 2021 01:18 am CET
Photo of Mathieu van der Poel (c)Alpecin-Fenix
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) has taken the victory of the first stage of the UAE Tour and the first leader’s jersey of the competition.
It was a day full of wind that created chaos in the peloton, splitting it in several pieces. The cyclocross World Champion was part of the first group and managed to win the sprint against names like David Dekker, Michael Morkoxv, Emils Liepins, Elia Viviani, Tadej Pogacar and Anthony Roux.
“It was really unexpected to be honest but it was windy from the beginning onwards,” said the winner of the stage and the GC leader of the UAE Tour. “I was immediately in the first echelon and I felt good. But then, with the head wind, we regrouped with the peloton and the bunch split again after the intermediate sprint. I was able to catch the first group and it was very hard racing until the finish line. It was good to have teammates in the front group, especially Gianni [Vermeersch] who helped me a lot at the end because Roy was dropped a little bit before. Gianni did an amazing job again covering moves in the finale.
“I still felt really good for the sprint. I knew I just had to start sprinting when I thought it was the right moment to go. The hard racing was good for me for the sprint. Normally there were a few guys faster than me but the heat made it a very hard race as well. That gave me confidence that I could go for the sprint, which wasn’t the plan before. I didn’t expect such a stage and such a result at all. I had a rest after the cyclo-cross world championship and I started training with the team one week before coming to the UAE. So I think it’s my cyclo-cross form that’s made me a winner today.”