“I surprised myself”, Mathieu van der Poel kicked in an open door after the podium ceremony.

“I have to thank my team. We worked until midnight to improve my position and save energy.”

“This was one of my best days on the bike. I was able to go over my limit. I’m really proud.”

“I got good indications about my performance and I had confidence based on the split times.”

“I was able to save energy to keep fighting, because I knew that the last 2 kilometers would be decisive. There was still something in the tank.”

“When I said yesterday that I thought I would lose the yellow, that was no lie,” the Dutchman emphasized again. “This is not my specialty.”

About winner Tadej Pogacar: “I like him because he is always friendly. It is phenomenal what he has done.”

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“I didn’t think I would ever enjoy a time trial”, beamed Van der Poel after the ceremony with our reporter and the NOS colleague.

“I especially have to thank sports director Christoph Roodhooft and coach Kristof De Kegel. They worked on my bike until late last night to be competitive. That worked out well.”

“The freak in Christoph still woke up and he still has a lot arranged.”

Is Van der Poel now also a time trialist? “Apparently yes. I knew I had the wattages to compete, but position and aerodynamics are so important.”

“I had already indicated that I thought this was a working point for smaller laps and so I am very happy.”

For Van der Poel, every day in yellow is now a bonus. “Someday I’ll have to say goodbye.”

Perhaps he will be relieved by Wout van Aert. Today the Dutchman was only slightly slower.

“We keep running into each other,” he laughed. “Is there something I can’t do? A lot!”

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