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IWG builds the future with Dries De Pooter and Madis Mihkels

Young riders Dries De Pooter (19) and Madis Mihkels (18) have chosen to spend their future with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in 2023 and 2024. Before making their professional debut, both young talents will respectively ride in the colors of Hagens Berman Axeon and Team Ampler – Tartu2024 in 2022 and join the World Team as trainees in August after having spent the beginning of the season in two Continental development teams.

Dries De Pooter, Belgian champion in the junior category in 2020, was one of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert’s trainees in 2021. During this successful experience he had an important share in Danny van Poppel’s victory in the Egmont Cycling Race in August and raced alongside his leaders in the finals of the Primus Classic and the GP de Wallonie. During his first season in the U23 category, he finished 4th at the Belgian U23 championships, 13th in the GP Jef Scherens, 7th in the Ster van Zwolle and achieved several good results at the prestigious Course de la Paix. The rider of Geel first hopes to shine in the colors of American team Hagens Berman Axeon directed by Axel Merckx before joining the World Tour peloton with the team of Jean-François Bourlart.

In September, Estonian rider Madis Mihkels won the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in Leuven by winning the sprint of the peloton. In this way he confirmed that he is one of the best riders of his generation, after his 7th place at the difficult European Championships in Trente two weeks before and his two sprint victories in the nations cup in Hungary. In 2021, he also won the junior national titles in both the time trial and the road race. The 18 year old rider will become the second Estonian rider to wear the jersey of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, after Rein Taaramäe.

« After my Belgian title in the junior category, I made big steps forward thanks to my trainer Ioannis Tamouridis and the people surrounding me. The opportunity to become a trainee with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert was a real honor for me. I’m very proud about what we achieved during this period, of course I’m thinking about the victory at the Egmont Cycling Race. I already learned a lot about the professionalism of the team, about the fact that not one single detail is left to chance, for example concerning equipment or nutrition. In addition, the relaxed atmosphere reigning in the team makes me feel very comfortable. I am very motivated for 2022, I want to win races and become stronger physically before pinning my next race numbers on my Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert shirt. I’m very ambitious and I’m convinced that I will receive the opportunity to realize my dreams within this team. »

« I’m very proud to join the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert project. During my years as a junior I didn’t receive many opportunities to prove myself because of the pandemic, but my performance at the World Championships in Leuven enabled me to show what I’m capable of. The first contacts with the team immediately confirmed the friendly atmosphere for which it is known. Together we decided that the best option for me would be to continue my development in 2022 in the U23 category, and meanwhile participate to the training camps of the World Team. It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to rely on the advice of Rein Taaramäe, a reference in my country. He is a great mentor and will help me, in addition to the performance staff, to learn step by step. »

« With Dries De Pooter and Madis Mihkels we managed to add two talented young riders to our project. As a trainee in 2021, Dries made a good impression in the difficult Belgian classics. Madis excelled in physical tests last year and confirmed his talent at the European and World Championships. Their results show their capabilities and as we are following them for a long time already we are convinced that we can exploit their potential. We have proven last season that we are able to boost the progression of our riders, partly thanks to the perfect balance between focus on performance and family atmosphere. » « In order to enable them to step up to the World Tour in an optimal way, we created an adapted trajectory for them. We are convinced that the years in the U23 category are and stay precious for the progression of young talents. That’s why it is important that they continue in this category next season. We set up a close collaboration with their respective teams for 2022 in order to support both riders as good as possible and to facilitate their transition towards the World Tour. This collaboration exists of training, equipment, nutrition and the coordination of their race programs. Dries and Madis can also take benefit of the collective training camps and other team activities before finalizing their preparation on the highest cycling level as a trainee. This collaboration is unique for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert and I’m proud about the work accomplished by all involved parties. »


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