Mathieu van der Poel had made the extension of his cyclocross world title a big goal, but due to persistent back problems he pulled the plug.

Mathieu van der Poel had made the extension of his cyclocross world title a big goal, but due to persistent back problems he pulled the plug. © BELGA

Mathieu van der Poel (26) underwent minor knee surgery on Saturday at AZ Herentals. In a previous crash, a tear had appeared in the capsule of the kneecap. His forced rest due to back pain turned out to be the ideal moment to remedy that shortcoming. But in the meantime, the classic spring is getting closer and closer.

Mathieu van der Poel has been standing still for three weeks with a backache for three weeks. The problem has haunted him since last summer and forced him to end his cyclocross season after two crosses (Dendermonde and Heusden-Zolder). Rest is the only option.

According to Van der Poel, an ideal moment for a minor intervention to remedy an existing problem with the knee. “As a result of the tear in the kneecap, scar tissue had formed in which a hardened strand rubbed against the bone,” his team Alpecin-Fenix ​​said in a statement. “At the moment it was painless and didn’t bother him, but going forward now was the right time to proactively take away. That is why van der Poel was operated on last Saturday by doctor Toon Claes and a positive evaluation followed after a check-up. This operation was separate from the back injury from which van der Poel is currently recovering.”

Van der Poel already fell on his knee a few times, including at the end of November during a forest training. As a result, he was only able to join the team internship later. However, the problem was the result of a previous crash.

The Dutch all-rounder was previously operated on by top surgeon Toon Claes in 2015, after a fall in the Tour of the Future. As a result, he missed the start of the cyclocross season.

Routine job, but what about classic?

Saturday’s intervention is a routine job, but the rider will have to stay off the bike for at least a week. The fact that Van der Poel went under the knife also means that he had no intention of doing so in the coming days. His back injury (an intervertebral vertebra pushes on the spinal nerve) can only be remedied with rest. And that can take a while, putting the spring classics at risk as well. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be run within six weeks.

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