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Tour of Flanders: Mathieu van der Poel edges reduced sprint in dramatic final

Pogačar animates the race with three huge attacks but comes undone in final sprint, finishing fourth.

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Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin Fenix) won the Tour of Flanders in a dramatic final.

Van der Poel countered a series of attacks from Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) in the final hour of racing, and the duo galloped toward Oudenaarde as a lead pair, with the race looking destined for a two-up sprint.

Van der Poel was forced to lead out the final kick as a handful of chasers bridged across just as the finish line loomed into sight. The Dutchman launched a huge dragging sprint, narrowly fending off a challenge from Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) to win De Ronde for the second time.

Pogačar had to check his sprint line in the final 100m and sat up protesting. The pause meant the Slovenian missed the podium, leaving Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) to grab third-place after a race that saw Pogačar force all the decisive splits with a series of hammering attacks.

Van der Poel narrowly missed out on Flanders victory last year after fizzling in the final sprint against Kasper Asgreen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).

The 27-year-old collapsed in disbelief into the arms of teammates and family after crossing the line. His victory comes just two weeks after his return to injury after months on the sidelines due to back problems.

“I worked so hard for this one At first I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to the classics. To win De Ronde, it’s incredible,” he said.

“The Kwaremont and Paterberg, I was just trying to hold the wheel of Tadej. He was incredibly strong. I was on the limit on the Paterberg, but I had a few Ks to get the legs back turning and focus on the sprint.

“Roubaix? First I’m going to focus on this one. I had to work so hard to be here, I’ve a lot of people to thank for being here and I want to enjoy it with them.”

Defending champion Asgreen was dropped from the front of the race at around 45km to go when a mechanical at saw him miss one of Pogačar’s series of attacks.

Pogačar crushes the Kwaremont

The race had opened up at 90km to go when the day’s early break lingered around three minutes ahead.

A move of 11 dived away from the bunch with and darted across to two other attackers, leaving Jumbo-Visma, Quick-Step and Trek-Segafredo with two riders in total on the move.

Pogačar’s UAE crew missed the split and took responsibility in the chase. UAE Emirates pulled hard in the peloton for the best part of an hour before Pogačar put the hammer down for the first of three times on the second ascent of the Kwaremont at 55km to go.

The double Tour de France champ blasted out of the peloton and Kasper Asgreen and a handful more with him. The group burst through the counterattack and straight past the breakaway as the race exploded all across Flanders.

A number of favorites that couldn’t mark Pogačar’s initial move led a bunch of chasers across to Pogačar and Co. before Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) darted away to lead the race.

Pogačar, van der Poel force five-rider split

Pogačar made a second surge on the extra steep Koppenberg at 45km remaining. The Slovenian hit off the front on the cobbled berg, with van der Poel and Madouas going with him.

Asgreen had looked in trouble after following Pogačar’s attack on Kwaremont and saw his race go wrong soon afterward.

The defending champ saw his race derailed by a mechanical just when Pogačar attacked on the Koppenberg and had to stop to make the fix. Quick-Step tried pacing him back, but the Wolfpack’s day was done in yet another day the classics kings will want to forget.

Pogačar was relentless after his Koppenberg surge, and dragged van der Poel and Madouas across to Wright and van Baarle with 35km remaining.

Jumbo-Visma and Ag2r Citroën chased, but the leading fivesome only gained time and took a 45-second lead over a chase trio into the decisive final Kwaremont-Paterberg double-punch.

Pogačar relentless, van der Poel resilient

Pogačar attacked a third time on the final climb of the Kwaremont. The Slovenian pummeled across the cobbles and again, it was only van der Poel that could follow.

The two hit the final Paterberg climb together and Pogačar’s pressure looked to have cracked van der Poel, but the Dutchman was resilient and crested the berg with his rival to set up a two-up TT into Oudenaarde.

Van Baarle and Madouas chased together and seemed destined to be racing for third.

However, with van der Poel and Pogačar playing cat-and-mouse in the final kilometer, the two bridged to the front of the race at around 250 meters to go, forcing the Dutchman to open his winning sprint.

Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres ME Results

Stage
RankNameTeamTime
1VAN DER POEL MathieuAlpecin-Fenix6:18:30
2VAN BAARLE DylanINEOS Grenadiers0:00
3MADOUAS ValentinGroupama - FDJ0:00
4POGAČAR TadejUAE Team Emirates0:00
5KÜNG StefanGroupama - FDJ0:02
6TEUNS DylanBahrain - Victorious0:02
7WRIGHT FredBahrain - Victorious0:11
8PEDERSEN MadsTrek - Segafredo0:48
9LAPORTE ChristopheJumbo-Visma0:48
10KRISTOFF AlexanderIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux0:48
11MATTHEWS MichaelTeam BikeExchange - Jayco0:48
12TRATNIK JanBahrain - Victorious0:48
13BENOOT TiesjJumbo-Visma1:02
14PIDCOCK ThomasINEOS Grenadiers1:05
15VAN AVERMAET GregAG2R Citroën Team1:07
16VAN POPPEL DannyBORA - hansgrohe1:07
17LOUVEL MatisTeam Arkéa Samsic1:07
18DEGENKOLB JohnTeam DSM1:07
19TEUNISSEN MikeJumbo-Visma1:07
20ARANBURU AlexMovistar Team1:07
21MOHORIČ MatejBahrain - Victorious1:07
22GARCÍA CORTINA IvánMovistar Team1:07
23ASGREEN KasperQuick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team1:07
24CAPIOT AmauryTeam Arkéa Samsic1:07
25MOZZATO LucaB&B Hotels - KTM1:07
26SÜTTERLIN JashaBahrain - Victorious1:07
27DE GENDT AiméIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux1:07
28SKAARSETH AndersUno-X Pro Cycling Team1:07
29TERPSTRA NikiTotalEnergies1:07
30LAMPAERT YvesQuick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team1:07
31LE GAC OlivierGroupama - FDJ1:07
32LIVYNS ArjenBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB1:07
33CAMPENAERTS VictorLotto Soudal1:07
34TRENTIN MatteoUAE Team Emirates1:07
35TURNER BenINEOS Grenadiers1:11
36VALGREN MichaelEF Education-EasyPost1:11
37GENIETS KevinGroupama - FDJ1:11
38SÉNÉCHAL FlorianQuick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team1:11
39NIEUWENHUIS JorisTeam DSM1:11
40VERMEERSCH GianniAlpecin-Fenix1:18
41NAESEN OliverAG2R Citroën Team1:26
42VAN HOOYDONCK NathanJumbo-Visma3:29
43WELLENS TimLotto Soudal3:29
44PASQUALON AndreaIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux3:29
45GHYS RobbeSport Vlaanderen - Baloise5:11
46STEIMLE JannikQuick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team5:11
47POLITT NilsBORA - hansgrohe5:11
48ARMÉE SanderCofidis5:11
49RUSSO ClémentTeam Arkéa Samsic5:13
50STUYVEN JasperTrek - Segafredo5:13
51LIENHARD FabianGroupama - FDJ5:13
52NARVÁEZ JhonatanINEOS Grenadiers5:13
53SMITH DionTeam BikeExchange - Jayco5:13
54ŠTYBAR ZdeněkQuick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team5:16
55ASKEY LewisGroupama - FDJ7:44
56JUNGELS BobAG2R Citroën Team7:44
57NORSGAARD MathiasMovistar Team7:44
58MERTENS JulianSport Vlaanderen - Baloise7:44
59KORETZKY VictorB&B Hotels - KTM7:44
60DUJARDIN SandyTotalEnergies7:44
61VAN MOER BrentLotto Soudal7:44
62SWIFT ConnorTeam Arkéa Samsic7:44
63LANGEVELD SebastianEF Education-EasyPost7:44
64JACOBS JohanMovistar Team8:24
65BEULLENS CedricLotto Soudal8:50
66DEVRIENDT TomIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux8:50
67THEUNS EdwardTrek - Segafredo8:50
68DE VYLDER LindsaySport Vlaanderen - Baloise8:50
69SHEFFIELD MagnusINEOS Grenadiers8:50
70LEMOINE CyrilB&B Hotels - KTM8:50
71ERVITI ImanolMovistar Team8:50
72VAN DER HOORN TacoIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux8:50
73GRIGNARD SébastienLotto Soudal8:50
74SWIFT BenINEOS Grenadiers8:50
75VAN DIJKE MickJumbo-Visma8:50
76VERMEERSCH FlorianLotto Soudal8:50
77TOUZÉ DamienAG2R Citroën Team8:50
78KIRSCH AlexTrek - Segafredo8:50
79VERGAERDE OttoTrek - Segafredo8:50
80JAUREGUI QuentinB&B Hotels - KTM8:50
81MARIT ArneSport Vlaanderen - Baloise10:13
82ELOSEGUI IñigoMovistar Team10:13
83DURBRIDGE LukeTeam BikeExchange - Jayco10:13
84MACIEJUK FilipBahrain - Victorious10:13
85MÄRKL NiklasTeam DSM10:13
86ZAKHAROV ArtyomAstana Qazaqstan Team10:13
87KOCH JonasBORA - hansgrohe10:13
88TILLER RasmusUno-X Pro Cycling Team10:13
89RUTSCH JonasEF Education-EasyPost10:13
90DE PESTEL SanderSport Vlaanderen - Baloise10:13
91KANTER MaxMovistar Team10:13
92ANIOŁKOWSKI StanisławBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB10:13
93SAJNOK SzymonCofidis10:13
94PAJUR MarkusTeam Arkéa Samsic10:13
95ROBEET LudovicBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB10:13
96SKUJIŅŠ TomsTrek - Segafredo10:13
97VERMOTE JulienAlpecin-Fenix10:16
98DILLIER SilvanAlpecin-Fenix10:16
99DEWULF StanAG2R Citroën Team10:16
100SCHÄR MichaelAG2R Citroën Team10:16
101FEDOROV YevgeniyAstana Qazaqstan Team10:16
102HALLER MarcoBORA - hansgrohe10:16
103MORICE JulienB&B Hotels - KTM10:16

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.