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That's why Mathieu Van der Poel is risking not participating in the Olympics

The title may be aggressive but it has a kernel of truth: at the moment Van der Poel cannot participate in the Paris Olympics. Let's see why.

Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu Van Der Poel victorious in the distant 2021 in the Nove Mesto Short Track in front of Pidcock // Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

It is recent news that Mathieu Van der Poel he will participate in both the road world championships and the MTB world championships, despite having declared that he won't be able to train on a mountain bike and therefore be 100% ready. But we know how much class there is in Van der Poel, so even if he's not in top form, he could still put on a show. But the Netherlands cannot currently field any athletes in Paris 2024, why?

van der poel
The moment before the disastrous fall in Tokyo (2021) – video

How many athletes will compete on mountain bikes in Paris 2024?

In total, 72 athletes will compete in the Paris 2024 mountain bike competition. As host country, France has been allocated two fixed places – one for men and one for women – while two more will be wild-card unquestionable judgment of the Games Committee.

Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu van der Poel UCI XCO World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 4th, 2019 // Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

The other 68 places – 34 for women and 34 for men – will be allocated based on competitions leading up to the Games, with up to two places for men and two for women available to each nation (compared to three for Tokyo 2020).

The ranking that decrees how many athletes to take to the Olympics is by nation: the points of the three best mountain bikers of each country are added up. 1st to 8th place countries are awarded 2 places. From 9th to 19th place is only one, for a total of 27 starting places. As host country, France will still get a starting berth, but will move up to number twenty in the Olympic results if the French finish in the top eight. Furthermore, the IOC reserves the right to grant a wild card: and, frankly speaking, the wild card would be all for Van der Poel's Holland, possibly but never say never.

At the moment, the Dutch are in 31st place, a long way from the XNUMXth place to get a slot. Milan Vader, one of the beacons in the past for Holland in MTB, It's not doing well after passing on the road and having a major accident last year.

The last way for Van der Poel, in case Holland does not fall in the first nations, is to try to get back among the 2 countries with the best placements in the World Cup elite/Under 23 that are not among the top 19 of the standings, so so as to get a place at the Olympics. The situation is thorny but for a talent like Van der Poel, as can be seen from the many "loopholes" in the regulation, it shouldn't be difficult to get on the starting grid.

Mathieu Van Der Poel MTB World Cup 2021
Mathieu Van Der Poel UCI XCC in Albstadt 2021

A situation that would not be new and that Peter Sagan in Rio 2016 and Tom Pidcock in Tokyo 2020 have already used. In Sagan's case, it was his country's federation that gave him the chance to participate with the only place they had available, despite the Slovakian not scoring points, and in Tom Pidcock's case, it was a place extraordinary to the United Kingdom which used to make the English rider race in MTB.

Written by I am a fan of everything that has 2 wheels: at a young age I practiced road and track cycling (Italian Allievi champion). At the age of 18 I passed into the cross country competing at national/international level as an Under23. Past Elite, I made the choice to take things more lightly from a training point of view, and my love for gravity disciplines was born, training me as an FCI MTB instructor and guide. Now I have made passion my profession by managing 2 MTB centers on the island of Elba (Bike Center Elba and Elba MTB), creating the FANTAmtb and telling in an ironic but professional way everything that revolves around MTB thanks to 365mountainbike and 365TV (YouTube'PULITI dentro BIKER fuori').


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