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Mathieu van der Poel ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

World champion Mathieu van der Poel will start Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the second time in his career. Not as a top favorite, but with healthy ambition.

"The batteries have been recharged. Due to the predicted bad weather conditions at home, I chose to fly to Spain on Sunday evening. There I could finish a few good training sessions the past few days in function of my last goal this spring. On Thursday afternoon I returned to Belgium to recon the final of La Doyenne with my teammates on Friday, but in the last minute I decided not to do so. The weather forecast was too bad. Now, even though my last (and only) participation dates back to 2020, I know most of the roads and hills."

"Last Sunday's less good result did not make me doubt my good shape of the past weeks, to be clear. No, I didn't have super legs in the Amstel Gold Race, but I wasn't really bad either. However, because my spring was already successful, I could afford to gamble a bit in the final. That didn't turn out as hoped. But the best riders in the race were at the front and Tom Pidcock became the more than deserved winner."

"As said, I think the shape is still good enough to play a significant role in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And I'm not just talking about myself, but also about the teammates. The results don't show it, but I saw in the Flèche Wallonne a strong Axel Laurance, Quinten Hermans and Soren Kragh Andersen. I think with this quality in our team we should be able to do something nice."

"But of course you can't compare it to the cobbled classics either, where I was the outspoken favorite due to the elimination of Wout van Aert. In Liege, the contenders cannot be counted on one hand. With Tadej Pogacar in the lead, of course. We saw in the Strade Bianche that Tadej doesn't need any competition to be in top shape right away. A pure master class rider who will be racing on his favorite course on Sunday and who has a strong team around him. There is also Tom Pidcock. I think of Richard Carapaz, Tiesj Benoot, Mattias Skjelmose, Maxim Van Gils, Dylan Teuns, you name it.... All guys who proved in the past week that they are in good shape and are on paper better climbers than myself."

"Nevertheless, winning is possible. If I wasn't convinced of that, I wouldn't even participate. But it will all have to fall into place a little bit more than in the Flemish classics. We're going to try it anyhow. One more shot before I take some rest again. As I said, our spring has succeeded already. Everything that will be added on Sunday will be more than the icing on the cake."