The organizers of the Denain GP are definitely unlucky. In 2020, the northerner event was canceled at the last moment because of the health situation, while all costs had been incurred. This year, for its return to the calendar, the race for twelve cobblestone sectors, a sort of prelude to Paris-Roubaix, boasted of having Mathieu van der Poel as headliner, who had planned to perfect his preparation there in view of the Worlds (Sunday) and Hell of the North (October 3).
“He will not be the big favorite because of his physical problems”
But Monday, at the end of the afternoon, the name of the Dutchman suddenly disappeared from the entry list. In delicacy with his back since his stunt on the Olympic mountain biking event in July, has “VDP” suffered a relapse? On the contrary: he is doing better than expected. The runner believes that he does not need an additional test for his lumbar muscles, which had reassured him as soon as he resumed his resumption ten days ago on the Antwerp Port Epic (1st) and which did not prevent him from following Julian Alaphilippe like his shadow on Saturday on the cobbled slopes of the Primus Classic (8th), where only a puncture prevented him from playing for victory.
“Oranje” coach Koos Moerenhout continues to be cautious (“He will not be the big favorite because of his physical problems”, he said on Monday, formalizing his presence in Flanders) but Van der Poel had warned that he would not go to Antwerp at the start on Sunday, other than 100% of his means. The next chapter in the rivalry between him and Wout van Aert, announced as big favorite at home, promises to be epic.