Van der Poel took the lead on Sunday
By Peter Maurer
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) | Photo: Cor Vos
07.05.2022 | (rsn) – With second place in the Budapest individual time trial, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix), as he beautifully described him in his words at the finish, earned another day in the Maglia Rosa. This required flawless performance in the fight against time and is exactly what the Dutch superstar has offered. As stage 3, which will end at Lake Balaton, will likely result in a mass sprint, the Alpecin captain should be able to take his pink jersey with him to Italy.
“Tomorrow my work will be ahead of Jakub Mareczko,” said the 27-year-old of the third day of the Giro d’Italia. Because the 28-year-old Italian of Polish descent, a newcomer to the Belgian second division squad, is the man nominated for mass sprints after Tim Merlier quit and dreams of his first stage success after three second places in 2017 and 2018 events.
The tactic of relying on a sprint on the pitch is not entirely disinterested, even for Van der Poel. Because the best sprinter in the overall standings is currently Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), 1:40 minutes behind the Dutchman after the time trial. There aren’t many bonus seconds up for grabs on Sunday for the Colombian to put on the pink jersey.
“I think I can defend the jersey up to Etna, then I will lose it”, explained Van der Poel at the press conference, who also explained that the Maglia Rosa was also his great premise in the individual time trial: “Maybe the best timekeepers, because I was close to winning and I can be happy about it ”.
The multifaceted Dutch athlete, who feels at home both on a cross bike and on a mountain bike, is once again convinced of his skills in the fight against time, even if the unknown vehicle he drives there is not really his own. “It’s probably the bike I train the least on,” joked the Alpecin leader.
What follows after Etna?
He enjoyed his first full day in the pink jersey very much and was looking forward to wearing the famous leader’s jersey for an entire stage on Sunday. “I am happy to be back to this level,” he said, looking back on the difficult weeks of winter when he suffered from a back injury he sustained when he fell at the Tokyo Olympics.
From his strong return to Milan-Sanremo, where he immediately finished third, and from victories at Vlaanderen’s Dwars and Ronde, the 27-year-old has shown that he is back. And that should be a warning to the competition, because the many hilly stages that await the third week also fit the Dutch perfectly.
And who knows if he might not have plans to win back the pink jersey if he has to give it up on Etna. At least speaking to Eurosport, Van der Poel announced that he is still hungry for more wins.