Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) took his first win of the season yesterday at Vlaamse Druivencross Overijse and to mark his comeback from injury, as he crossed the line he pointed at his left knee which he required surgery on.
The move was a nod to Johan Museeuw, the multiple classics winner who did the same thing as he crossed the line to win Paris-Roubaix in 2000.
Two years earlier, Museeuw had a horrific crash in Paris–Roubaix at the Wallers Arenberg pavé section, shattering his knee. He subsequently developed a gangrene infection which nearly forced doctors to amputate his left leg. When he won Paris-Roubaix two years later he lifted his left foot from the pedal and pointed at his knee as a reminder of the injury that almost ended his career.
Van der Poel was asked about his gesture afterwards. “That gesture a la Johan Museeuw? The injury was not so bad,” he said, “but rehabilitation was mentally tough. If you can stand now where I stand, this is nice compensation for all that tough rehab. And when Museeuw was injured, it was much worse. I’m just happy now to be at this level, it is only my fourth Cross.”
The win also acts as compensation for Saturday’s race in Essen, where a late mechanical prevented the 20 year-old World Champion from taking a win while he was leading in the Bpost Bank Trofee race.