Mathieu van der Poel wanted to force a ticket for the Olympic Games in Paris at the World Championships mountain bike, but got out in the first round after a fall. Still, he seems to be qualified for the Games. Thanks to Tom Schellekens, who finished fifth in U23 category.
"My goal was to reach the top five and I succeeded," said Schellekens, who earned one of the two tickets that could be earned at the U23 World Cup. Only riders from countries that had already qualified for the Games on the basis of the Olympic qualifying ranking finished ahead of him. Due to Schellekens' performance, the Netherlands now seems to be allowed to send one mountain biker to Paris. In normal circumstances, national coach Gerben de Knegt will always select Mathieu van der Poel for this.
Final startlist Vuelta a Espana with Evenepoel, Roglic, Vingegaard, Ayuso, Almeida, Ganna, Thomas, Landa and Mas
Schellekens understands when De Knegt makes that choice. "It is more than right that Mathieu van der Poel goes to Paris, I can't match him by a long shot," it sounds in conversation with Omroep Brabant. "I will be riding with the U23 for a few more years, then it would be very unrealistic to already be at the top of the elite."
Next year, Schellekens will also be seen more on the road, because he will combine mountain biking with road cycling at Jumbo-Visma Development. "I have a power meter on my mountain bike and because of the figures it produces, I came into the picture with the training team. Here I can develop further as a mountain biker and take the next steps. I also get the chance as a road cyclist. For example, Fem van Empel and Milan Vader preceded me."