Can he cross over?

Former cyclocross World Champion, Mathieu van der Poel, is hoping to compete in the cross country at the 2016 Rio Olympics despite having no competitive mountain biking experience.

The 21-year-old Dutchman was the 2015 Cyclocross World Champion but conceded his rainbow jersey to Belgian Wout van Aert last weekend at an event overshadowed by motorised doping.

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Van der Poel told Belgian newpaper Het Nieuwsblad: “In the coming weeks I want to do my first races as a mountain biker, and not just that. The aim is to earn selection for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I have not really done a lot with the mountain bike in the past and certainly not in competition. But the possibility of selection for the Games is motivating. I would die to go to Rio.”

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So is it possible? Well he might have to get used to riding, as opposed to carrying, his bike over obstacles, but a number of riders, including British Olympian Liam Killeen, have switched the other way, so we don’t see why not – he’ll certainly be fit enough.

Watch highlights from the Mont Sainte Anne cross country World Cup

However, Van der Poel will face stiff competition for selection from Rudi van Houts and Michiel van der Heijden who both secured top 40 finishes at this year’s Cross Country World Championships.

Do you think he can successfully switch over to cross country? Let us know in the comments below.