Cycling analyst Thijs Zonneveld, like all other enthusiasts, has had another great racing year. In an extensive piece in The last news let the Dutchman shine his light on the cycling year 2021 and what we can take from it to the future.
Zonneveld analyzed 2021 on the basis of the headlines of the Belgian newspaper, starting with the Strade Bianchi. That race was gloriously won by Mathieu van der Poel. “Without the power explosion of the year, but Van der Poel has not reached that level this year,” the journalist notes. ‘In that long solo in Tirreno-Adriatico he went completely overboard. Together with Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe, he broke down during that period. That cost him more than he cares to admit, but it’s part of a revolution we’ve seen since 2019: they’re all going all-in, making it a long final and that makes cycling so much more attractive.”
‘Van der Poel is more or less the exponent of this’, continues Zonneveld. “When he’s at the start, he makes his mark. If you let Mathieu van der Poel race like a robot and want him to wait until deep into the final, then you may lose him after two or three seasons and he will do something else. He doesn’t really enjoy road cycling in essence.’
Zonneveld: ‘Van Aert can win Grand Tour’
2021 was of course also the year of Wout van Aert, who hit the mark in the spring in Gent-Wevelgem and the Amstel Gold Race. In the Tour of Flanders, the Belgian was unable to live up to the high expectations. ‘The Tour of Flanders is a race that, as far as I’m concerned, is not so easy to win for Van Aert. It is more suited to Van der Poel. Van Aert can certainly win it, but then Van der Poel must have a bad day. Van Aert will win Liège-Bastogne-Liège more easily than the Ronde’, says Zonneveld The last news.
The Jumbo-Visma rider already showed in the Tour de France that he can certainly handle the climbs, with his formidable victory on Mont Ventoux. Zonneveld states that Van Aert will eventually go for the classification in a big round. “I don’t think Van Aert can win from Pogacar, but in a slightly less occupied Giro or Vuelta with a course that doesn’t have too many tough climbs, he can win like Dumoulin did in the 2017 Giro.”