The Dutchman turned out to be the best of an elite group in the Strade Bianche, including world champion Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert and winners of the previous two Rounds of France, Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogacar. Riders and former riders also praised Van der Poel’s umpteenth shot on Twitter.
“Beastly”, writes ex-Tour winner Alberto Contador (2007 and 2009), for example.
Geraint Thomas, who won the Tour de France in 2018, was also impressed – although in a later report he focused on his young teammates Egan Bernal and Tom Pidcock, who finished third and fifth in Siena.
Belgian rider Thomas De Gendt also responded to Van der Poel’s victory, albeit in his own unique way. “As a fan of cycling, I will have a lot of fun watching matches on TV in the coming years. As a cyclist, my worst years are coming, racing against all those young watt bombs. ”
Van Aert: ‘Van der Poel was really impressive’
Van Aert soloed to victory in Siena last year, but the leader of Jumbo-Visma had to settle for fourth place in this edition of Strade Bianche. The 26-year-old Belgian said he missed “the last percent” in the final that was needed to participate for the win. He was impressed by Van der Poel, who was the first to cross the finish line on the Piazza del Campo after a mighty breakaway on the steep part to the finish line.
“I felt in the final that the last percent is not there yet. I was just not good enough in the final, ”said Van Aert, who rode his first race of this year on the road in Tuscany. “That gear was not there yet. I had a hard time on the really steep climbs in the final. The content is there, but the right sharpness is yet to come. Of course you want to win this race, but that was not possible this time. If I get even better, we will have a nice classic season. ”
Van Aert had to pass in the final when Alaphilippe started on one of the last gravel strips. „The steep climbs in combination with the attacks of Alaphilippe and Van der Poel were just too much now. It is and remains one of the most beautiful races of the year and the best has won here as usual. Van der Poel was really impressive ”, said the Belgian about the Dutch winner, also his big rival in cyclocross.
Alaphilippe: ‘I did my best and I regret nothing’
“I did my best and I do not regret anything,” said world champion Alaphilippe, who had to acknowledge his superior in Van der Poel on the final climb. “Mathieu was the strongest of the leading group. At 15 to 20 kilometers from the line I entered one of the gravel sectors and saw the time difference. My feeling was good and I then focused on the last sector. But I saw that Mathieu had good legs, and you saw on the last climb that he was just the strongest. Now I focus on Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and the classics in Belgium. ”