"Of course, there is also one Tadej Pogacar” - Mathieu van der Poel admits he needs his best legs to compete at Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Although Mathieu van der Poel has started the 2024 campaign in pretty imperious form, the world champion showed his first signs of weakness on Sunday, finishing 22nd in a quiet performance at the Amstel Gold Race. With Liege-Bastogne-Liege quickly approaching, the Dutchman realises he'll need his best legs to compete for victory.

In order to get himself into tip-top shape, van der Poel is skipping La Fleche Wallonne this week and instead travelling to Spain for some warm-weather training. "I'll enjoy the good weather and a few more last efforts uphill," said the Rainbow Jersey, according to Het Nieuwsblad, realising he'll need to be at his very best if he wants to add a third monument to his palmares this season. "That will be necessary, yes. That race is even harder. And of course, there is also one Tadej Pogacar.”

“I certainly didn't have the legs of the past few weeks, but it was fun to ride the Amstel Gold Race again,” the world champion reflected on Sunday, remaining optimistic despite his disappointment. “This is also a different type of race. Things may be a little more tactical here between the climbs. They (the organization, ed.) did a good job. The team has done a good job, but we may be short of one guy to jump with. But again, we did a good job.”

With van der Poel not the only rider to watch on the 21st of April, he also had a message to send ahead of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, beginning the mind games early. "It is not always up to me to work," he proposes in conclusion. "I have already won two Monuments, I have the luxury of being able to gamble."

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