Maybe his insane schedule has finally caught up with him. But man, I’m bummed that he won’t be on the start line on thursday or Saturday for the 2021 World Champs.

Ever since he showed up and finally showed that the mighty Nino was beatable, I’ve loved watching Mathieu Van Der Poel. His ability to hit the gas, usually on a slight uphill grind, and literally leave everyone else in the dust was a thing of beauty. He could hang with the best most of the time, and when it really was needed, had that blast of power that no one else could match. Can you imagine the sheer frustration of being in the front of a World Cup for an hour, hauling butt, but knowing that he was right behind you just waiting for the right moment near the last lap to let it go? And when it does, you can’t even come close to keeping up with him?

It’s with all those memories in mind that I really wish he was going to be racing. I took a LONG drive from the midwest to West Virginia 2 years ago to finally see a World Cup in person – the last one being in the mid 1990’s up in Michigan. I did see many of my favorite riders, male and female, in very close situations. It was really cool to be 2 feet away from them all while they warmed up. But I really wanted to see MVDP that weekend, and he of course skipped it. If he’d have shown up and put in even just a “good” ride friday and sunday, he’d likely have won the overall. So close, but chose to skip it for some other goal, that if I recall, turned out really bad that year.

So, with a bad back, that’s not healed enough, he must skip not only the World Champs, but it seems the rest of the season which ends in September. The whole thing really is a bizarre ending to this year for him. After riding high in the Tour de France, everything seemed great. Waltz over to the Olympics, grab a medal, head over to the World Champs, grab another, then go back to the road and win a few more things.

Now, the rest of the entire season is likely over. One hand, it does remind everyone that he’s not a robot, he’s just a dude like all of us. Life does not always go to plan, and the body does not always cooperate.

Let’s hope he can relax now for a few weeks, get healed, and unleash another of his famous blasts a few times down the road for us all to admire.