Boy van Poppel
Type of Rider: Sprinter
Biggest Achievement: Junior World Champion Cyclocross
Team/Club 2010: Rabobank CT
Team 2011: not known yet
Best Mock List Ranking: new
With a surname like that, the question about relations is always raised: is he, or is he not? The answer is yes, he is the older brother of successful Junior road and cyclocross rider Danny van Poppel. And he also is the son of former world-class sprinter and Cervelo Team Manager Jean-Paul Van Poppel. That former successful rider Leontien van der Lienden is his mother and his little sister Kim national champion in the Nieuwelingen-category in both cross and on the road, only completes the picture of a fairy-tale cycling family.
Like his younger siblings Boy, whose first name is widely used in the Netherlands but sounds a little goofy in English, raced both on the road and in cyclocross. He did this so well that at his home World Cyclocross Championships in 2006 he was among the favourites for the Junior medals. His two biggest rivals, Robert Gavenda and the then nearly unbeatable Tom Meeusen, seemed a little out of reach for Boy nonetheless. But both these favourites couldn´t shake off Van Poppel on the flat course on hard-frozen terrain. On the last lap the Dutchman made short shrift of the Slovakian and the Belgian and won the World title.
After this title he joined the Rabobank CT team. Even tough Rabobank CT also has a cyclocross team, he put the cross scene aside and concentrated more and more on road racing. His successes in his first season of Under 23 racing were sparse, only a 4th place behind three breakaway riders and ahead of Matti Breschel showed that van Poppel may have inherited the fast legs of his father. Maybe he could have reached more results, but in the hierarchy of the team he was placed behind Vermeltfoort, Leezer and most of all Tom Veelers, who were farther in their development than van Poppel.
In 2008 Veelers and Leezer had already left the team, but the situation of the man from Utrecht did´t really improve. Coen Vermeltfoort had made a big step in that winter, that even took him to the top place in the Mock list by the end of the year. And his team contracted the Belgian sprinters Lodewyck and van Staeyen, who had great results in sprints. Nonetheless van Poppel added to his palmeres. Again at the tour of Ireland (2.1) he reached 4th place in a sprint behind Cavendish, Dean and Kristoff and showed he could compete with the Pros. With two more 9th places on the following stages he confirmed this. In September he even had his first season win. On the 5th stage of the Tour of Missouri (2.1) he celebrated a Rabobank CT double win ahead of van Staeyen. Behind them were Kevin Lacombe and surprisingly Mark Cavendish. Two more 8th places on the next two stages proved that van Poppel now was more consistent.
The nice thing at Mini Rabo is, that each year the strongest men join the Pros and the second-tier riders, who may be very talented on their own, then get the chance to show their class. Van Poppel could not really profit from that. Even though Klaas Lodewyck had left the team and Vermeltfoort suffered from mononucleosis, track superstar Theo Bos decided to turn to road racing with Rabobank CT. Notwithstanding Van Poppel even doubled the points he earned the year before. He reached the same number of wins, because at the Tour of Normandie (2.2) he won the 3rd stage in a sprint. Additionally he reached twelve more Top Ten placings, notably a second place at Schaal Sels (1.1).
2010 was the last Under 23 season for Boy van Poppel. Bos left for Cervelo, Michael van Staeyen sprinted for Topsport Vlaanderen, the new Junior talents were not yet dangerous for Van Poppel, so it could have been a dream season, if it were not for Coen Vermeltfoort, who reached his old strength again. And so Van Poppel once more had a teammate as an opponent. And objectively Vermeltfoort was just a little better. So another improvement stayed out. The 22-year-old confirmed the results of the previous season, even had 20 Top Ten placings. Again he had a win, a sprint stage at the Kreiz Breizh Elites (2.2) in France. In the Chateauroux Classic (1.1) he finished 5th, in the 8th stage of the Tour of Portugal (2.1) he was second. At the Olympia´s Tour, the season highlight for Dutch CT`s, he was lead-out man for Coen Vermeltfoort. Still he finished second, third and two times forth in stages.
Even tough Boy van Poppel throughout his whole Under 23 career never was the team´s number one sprinter, he showed his Pro ability. He didn’t get a contract with Rabobank, because their sprint weakness of past years was compensated by Bos and Vermeltfoort. Instead he goes to the States, to HealthUnitedcare, who will try to promote to PCT status. There he will meat Robert Förster who probably will be able to teach him a lot. Together they should be able to spread fear in the sprints on the American continent. How often UnitedHeathcare will appear in Euope remains te be seen, though.
nominated by wagenge, virtualprofit, ogkempf & Offi, written by ogkempf, translated by bugno