Michael Matthews on Mathieu van der Poel: "He sometimes has three legs, let's put it this way"

Michael Matthews is a rider who has in the past performed quite well in Amstel Gold Race, a race close to his heart and well suited to his legs. However, if he wants to win he will have to contest with an in-form Mathieu van der Poel that has recently been unbeatable.

"Of course I had to accept the jury's decision, even though I clearly didn't agree with it. The focus must therefore be on what is to come," Matthews told In de Leiderstrui about his relegation at the Tour of Flanders. "But I am not a sprinter who takes many risks and performs dangerous maneuvers in the final. I'm convinced of that. Unfortunately, it is what it is. It was a day where many dreams seemed to come true, even though it was not about victory. It just went really well that day. Mentally it took me a while to get over it, but I have now turned the page."

After (initially) finishing on the podium of Milano-Sanremo and Tour of Flanders, the Team Jayco AlUla rider is back to his best level and has been performing very well in the spring classics. At Amstel Gold Race he faces another challenge, but in a place that he knows very well.

"It is there in Limburg that I had my first date with my current wife. That race in particular is very special for us," he reveals. "She will be there again this year to support me. Hopefully that will give an extra boost and that dream can become reality, after I was often close, but had not yet managed to win."

A victory is certainly not out of reach, but the first of the Ardennes classics has a star-studded field with dozens of riders who can realistically battle for a result. Matthews is only one of them, but he definitely has a saying in the outcome of the race.

"Is this one of my best springs ever? You could say that. Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders were my main goals. I finished on the podium in both races, although that one podium place in Belgium was of course taken away from me. But I can certainly speak of a successful spring. Everything that follows now can become a nice bonus. I'm going to take it race by race. Hopefully I still have the legs. We'll see if skipping Paris-Roubaix pays off," he says.

Mathieu van der Poel will be the man to beat in this race and he acknowledges that it will be hard to challenge the World Champion in a route that features many short and explosive ascents and long distances, as he likes.

"With his current form he is certainly capable of riding on the podium. Of course, we have no influence on what Mathieu does or does not do. That's an out-of-class figure. He sometimes has three legs, let's put it this way," he jokes. "It's been a while since our last training together. Then I was racing somewhere again, then he was again. We have to plan that again soon!'

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