“Maybe I shouldn’t have said it, but it’s not that I think differently about that four days later. Had Mathieu or I won, then we were again just with the knife between our teeth at the start of the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. Still, I don’t intend to get caught a second time, ”he says on the eve of his final assignment of the road season.
Are you still angry? That was your Sunday evening a bit after Gent-Wevelgem.
“Of course I was interviewed immediately after the finish. I think I was a lot more pleasant in the evening. I have certainly not been angry for long. ”
An avalanche of opinions followed. Did you hear that? Taken along? Or let it pass?
“I tried to let everything go over me, but on Monday my wife Sarah was in Vive le Vélo, Karl Vannieuwkerke’s program. I wanted to look at it, so I was obliged to listen to the ‘Great Analysis of Gent-Wevelgem’. I was surprised that there was so much to do the next day. However, that did not surprise me. On the other hand, it has all been whipped up. It certainly wasn’t a shouting match. I heard terms that were a bit exaggerated compared to what it really was after Gent-Wevelgem. ”
It was an interview shortly after the finish. Would you now phrase it differently, analyze it?
“I probably would have said it a bit more calmly, or maybe kept it to myself. But I had thought about it at the time. That was the feeling I had then. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind now. I think that in the final kilometer Mathieu (Van der Poel) really showed that the victory was exactly less important to him. I can’t get rid of this impression. ”
Do you keep thinking that after what Van der Poel himself said about it on television? He thought it was low to the ground.
“I have not heard that. I read that. I think this is a logical response from him. I also did not expect him to suddenly say: ‘yes, that’s right’. I think we both expressed our opinions after Gent-Wevelgem, that we were both disappointed. Everything is completed for me. I do not know whether that is the case for Mathieu. I thought this could be said. Furthermore, I do not attach any importance to this. It didn’t bother me. ”
Is that something that we will take along for the rest of your career that will last a long time? It has also happened in the past. The Museeuw-Tchmil conflict, etc… Is that still a threat?
“That certainly happened last weekend. The rivalry has been around longer. Nothing has changed because of that interview. The rivalry would have been the same if either of us had won Gent-Wevelgem. Then we would have started again with the knife between our teeth in the Tour of Flanders. I never meant to beat Mathieu. I just wanted to win races. I’ll try that again on Sunday. To do that I will often have to pass Mathieu. On the cross. On the road. Wherever I start. ”
Admit it, verbally you never went as far as you did after Gent-Wevelgem, despite that rivalry?
“Maybe. Now imagine it as if I said “I don’t know what.” I just told you how I felt about that course. I didn’t break up anyone. I don’t think I offended Mathieu. I think I have the right to say that. I think it has often been very hard against hard in cyclocross. There we are ultimately first and second because it is closer together. After the cross I have been more angry than I was last Sunday. That makes sense if you compete against each other. ”
Have you approached Van der Poel in recent days?
“We discussed this in the Jumbo-Visma coach during the debriefing. That was no different than usual. ”
“On the other hand, I never actually have contact with Mathieu, via mobile phone or via social media. One of the first times this year in Milan-Turin, I spoke to Mathieu for longer than five minutes by bike. That was unique. “
Will the Gent-Wevelgem short circuit between you both still play in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday?
“I don’t think so. I think the course is more difficult. I think now that this has happened after Gent-Wevelgem, there is less chance that this will happen again. I assume that. For my part I have learned lessons from it: I do not intend to be caught a second time. ”
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