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Dirk De Wolf knows the answer to the frequently asked question: “My training partner tells me that Van der Poel can do better.”

Dirk De Wolf knows the answer to the frequently asked question: “My training partner tells me that Van der Poel can do better.”

Now that the cycling season is gradually revealing its first secrets, our analysts are ready again. During the Velofollies bike show, Dirk De Wolf joined Karl Vannieuwkerke's table.

Dirk De Wolf (63) camped out on Tenerife for six weeks in 25 to 30 degree temperatures, but of course he saw how Mathieu van der Poel was the biggest ray of sunshine at home last winter in the Flemish mud.

“The question everyone is asking is whether he can still improve for the road season? He can do better, as I hear from one of his best training buddies (Niels Verdijk, editor), with whom I communicate weekly.”

“A lot can still be added and then we will have brilliant classics. And then another one will have problems, right?” De Wolf points out to Wout van Aart.

In the field, the relationships were clear. “Compare it to Formula 1. There is also always Max Verstappen who wins. You think you have a good car, but there is always someone better.”

It is clear that Matthew van der Poel still has a lot to do and then we will have a scintillating classic. Then there's someone else who has problems, right?

Dirk de Wolf

The traditional duo will not face Tadej Pogacar in the cobbled Classics. “It's unfortunate that he's missing the spring with us. I've read articles with riders who say they're glad he's not coming, but I think it's a shame.”

Pogacar is heading to the Tour of the Giro. “He wants to hold a bird in his hand before he starts the Tour de France. Then he will be more relaxed.”

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“Because the field of participants in the round is disproportionate. Great, right? But only one person can win.”

De Wolf then refers to Jonas Vengegard again. “He no longer has any weaknesses. Well, Van Aert is not there and Woot was a third of their strength because of the pressure he could bring.”

“I also think Pogacar is the best rider in the world over a full season, but Vingegaard is stronger in terms of peak performance in the Tour. His time trial win in 2023 was the moment of the season for me.”

(Read more below the video)

“Let Evenepoel grow for another 2 to 3 years”

Next summer, the Slovenian and the Dane will meet Remco Evenepoel in the yellow debate.

“In a few weeks he will start his season in the Algarve and he wants to win there. Paris-Nice and Liège Bastogne-Liège: same story. Basque Country and Dauphiné: same thing.”

“He will also want to win the Tour. We hope that he will take a stage and start with the top five. Then we will say that he is already very far away, but not yet where we expect him to be.”

“Just let him develop into that for another two to three years. The Belgian Tour winner goes back to 1976, right? That's when I became a cyclist.”