Mathieu van der Poel blames altitude training for Tour de France woes

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Cycling News

Mathieu van der Poel is still at a loss to fully explain his sub-par performance at the recent Tour de France, but suspects things went wrong in the weeks between the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France .

Specifically, the Dutchman believes an altitude training camp was to blame, coming too soon after the Giro and having the effect of hampering his recovery rather than accelerating his preparations for the Tour.

Van der Poel enjoyed a fine Giro debut, winning the opening stage, wearing the pink jersey, lighting up breakaways and, crucially, finishing a three-week race for the first time in his career.

With his mountain biking ambitions taking a back seat in 2022, Van der Poel decided to double up on Grand Tours for the first time. However, he was a shadow of the rider that lit up the Tour's opening week on his Grand Tour debut 12 months ago.

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He didn't seriously challenge in the opening time trial and, after working for Jasper Philipsen in the subsequent sprints, he was dropped early on the cobbled stage 5 - his first serious target.

He then languished at the back of the peloton for the rest of the first week before leaving the race on stage 12 when he saw no improvement in the Alps.

"I especially think that something went wrong with the altitude training camp after the Giro towards the Tour," Van der Poel said at a post-Tour criterium in the Netherlands this week, according to NOS.

"I didn't feel like I came out of the Giro completely empty - quite the opposite. But my body was still recovering and it didn't recover sufficiently at altitude."

Van der Poel travelled to Italy to resume training on June 7, barely a week after finishing the Giro, and he then moved up to altitude at Livigno on June 10 for a camp that took in mountain bike rides as well as road training. He stayed there until June 21, before returning to his home in Belgium ahead of the start of the Tour in Copenhagen on July 1.

"If you do that [altitude training] after a Grand Tour, if you may need more recovery than you think, it may be that your body comes out of the altitude training sooner rather than later.

"I'm not one hundred per cent sure, but I have the feeling that it has something to do with that."

Van der Poel is now looking ahead to the rest of the season, using the lucrative post-Tour criterium circuit as a light-hearted way to start building some foundations for the coming months.

His racing schedule has yet to be confirmed but it will be built around the World Championships in Australia in September, with the road race taking place on a moderately hilly circuit in Wollongong.

He will not race the European Championships in Munich in August but is likely to build up for Worlds at either the Tour of Britain or the Canadian one-day WorldTour races in Quebec and Montreal in early September.

"I hope to be the best version of myself in Australia," Van der Poel said.

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