Boy van Poppel, the silent engine and mentor behind Gerben Thijssen: “Gerben is the reason I keep running”

With well-aimed buffalo punches, Gerben Thijssen grounded former teammates Caleb Ewan and Tim Marlair at the Tour of Limburg. The fact that Thijssen was there was the work of Boye van Poppel. “I have to thank Boy a lot. He kept me in the race because I felt very bad”, Thijssen said shortly after his resounding victory.

© Bart Borgerhoff

“Oh well, it’s my job,” said a modest Dutchman a day later. “I noticed Gerben was going through a hard time, but didn’t talk about it. If I did, he’d start thinking about it too much. So I usually call Everything is alright? instead of How is it going? In the second case I give him a chance to destroy himself, not in the first case. (laughs) On the last climb I felt he was working hard. No problem, I turn every situation into an opportunity. I rolled along with him. While the contestants were racing ahead in the air, we were thirty stations away. Going a little further, a bigger road followed and we were able to move on without consuming much energy. Gerben was not finished and could have saved. double whammy.”

“I don’t want to emphasize that, but it’s one of my strengths,” says Van Poppel. “I can stay calm in hectic situations. I also had days when I searched futilely for a good feeling. Until I got to the last ten kilometers and the adrenaline of the final wore off. was bad, he was immediately forgotten. A runner forgets his misery when he feels the red rag. Well, it’s true. Gerben proved it once again on Monday in Tongeren.

strategic turn

Thijssen won the Tour of Limburg by riding a perfect 150-metre line into the last corner. Who drew that line? Boy van Poppel once again. “At least twenty times I told him how to take that corner. This is a sharp right turn. So he had to come in from the left and cut the corner so that he could quickly get up to speed in the sprint. It was the winning move. Merillier came inwards but deflected so fast that it hit the boarding. Gerben drove as agreed, maintained his composure and blasted on to the finish.

each other’s motivators

Thanks to Van Poppel, Thijssen’s potential is increasingly coming to the surface. “I met Gerben a year and a half ago at Intermarche-Circus-Vanti. Even though he had been a professional for two years by then, I felt he was still far behind in terms of positioning and confidence. He didn’t scream, once fell the hole, didn’t always believe him. We started working on him after it was clear he could sprint. I told him that fast feet are not enough to be successful. You definitely must have a dose of insight as well, otherwise a less talented runner can still beat you. Just because he’s successful now doesn’t mean he belongs here. He still has to learn to perform more consistently, and win big in the Tour, Vuelta or Giro. Then he can really put his foot in front of the top runners.”

“I enjoy working with Gerben,” concluded van Poppel. “She’s the reason I keep running. I see her as my little project, my goal that I train for. I want to be important. To Gerben. I inspire her, He inspires me. And that’s why I’m so proud that he included me in his tribute. I really appreciate that.”

Boy van Poppel. , © Belga

(translate to tag) Gerben Thijssen

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