The victory of Mathieu van der Poel (26) on the 2nd stage of the Tour de France is not an ordinary one. The reason is the family story of the Dutchman from the Fenix-Alpecin team, which is celebrating its tour premiere.
He is the grandson of a French cycling legend, Raymond Poulidor († 83). He was on the Tour 14 times in the 60s and 70s, never won, never wore a yellow, but was three times second and five times third on the Tour of France.
This “flaw” made “Poupou”, as he was called, the darling of the Grand Nation. His daughter Corinne then married the Dutch professional cyclist Adrie van der Poel (62), who rode a day in yellow in 1984. Son Mathieu is considered to be the greater talent.
The bond with his grandfather was extremely close. Pointing a finger in the sky when crossing the finish line on the Mur-de-Bretagne was more than just a symbol, it was a need for him.
“It’s unbelievable that I managed to do that. The team told me I would be 100 percent yellow if I win. That was of course an emotional moment, ”he admitted and visibly swallowed when he spoke to his grandfather.
“I imagined grandpa is here and we’re taking a picture together. It hurts that he’s no longer there, ”said van der Poel. Until 2019, Poulidor was still present as an ambassador for main sponsor LCL, a bank. He sat in the VIP area, talked about the old days and gave countless autographs. And that in the yellow jersey, which he was denied during active times.
Four months after the finish in Paris in 2019, the legend died. At the grave, his grandson promised him to get yellow at least once. He has now done that and caught up with his father. “The jersey is special, but I’ve seen it maybe once or twice. It doesn’t hang around at home; it’s up in the closet somewhere. ”
He doesn’t want to lock up his own. “It gets a special place,” he says. And then maybe he can hang Olympic gold next to it. In Tokyo, the four-time world cross-country champion on a mountain bike is one of the favorites.
For this he even subordinates his appearances on the tour. Van der Poel: “Let’s be honest, I won’t be in yellow for longer than the time trial.” And that’s already Wednesday from Changé to Laval.
“I would like to arrive in Paris,” he says, “if it doesn’t ruin my form for the Olympics. Driving at full power every day, I definitely won’t. I choose the days so that I’m still in good shape in Paris and then fly to Tokyo. “
Because neither father nor grandfather have an Olympic medal. He would be the first in the family.