Van der Poel in the history books

Van der Poel in the history books

Road  31/03/2024

With a third win, Mathieu van der Poel has joined an exceptional list of champions. From the Koppenberg, the Dutchman rode solo to victory in Oudenaarde. He made it ahead of Mozzato and Politt.

270 km, that much was the distance between the start in Antwerp and the finish in Oudenaarde of the 108th edition of the Tour of Flanders. Less than 12 km after the official start, the traditional early breakaway was a fact: Van Lerberghe (Soudal Quick-Step), Durbridge & Reinders (Team Jayco AlUla), Touzé (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team), Taminiaux (Lotto Dstny), Aniolkowski (Cofidis), Dekker (Arkéa - B&B Hotels) and Vermoote (Bingoal WB).

Like last year, the first hour was particularly fast. 51.6 km were on the counter after one hour of racing. In the peloton, Alpecin-Deceuninck controlled the situation. The frontrunners got a maximum lead of more than four minutes, but the peloton did not let up any further.

At 111km from the line, the big names mingled for the first time. It was Jorgenson (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) who accelerated on the Wolvenberg. A little further on, Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) also went to shake the tree. Which he did a second time on the Molenberg. Leading up to the Berendries, it was attack after attack.

Eventually, a group including Benoot and Van Baarle (Team Visma | Lease a Bike), Pedersen, Naesen (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team), Turner (INEOS Grenadiers) and Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) was able to break away just before the Berendries. There Lazkano (Movistar) counterattacked. World champion Van der Poel chose the wheel of Küng (Groupama-FDJ). The difference with the group of Benoot was 21 seconds.

At 87km from the line, Van der Poel shot from the peloton to the leading group on the Valkenberg. The moment Van der Poel was able to join, Pedersen pulled through. Vermeersch was immediately on the Dane's wheel. Pedersen went on and Vermeersch looked the cat out of the tree in his companion's wheel.

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On the second climb of the Oude Kwaremont, Lazkano set the pace. He got world champion Van der Poel in his wheel, who in turn took over and went up and over Pedersen and Vermeersch. Lazkano, Pithie (Groupama-FDJ), Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech), Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) and Pedersen took off together. On the descent, the chasers were also able to return.

On the Paterberg, Mohoric took command. Van der Poel had to come from far away, but passed half the group. Ahead of the Koppenberg, Garcia Cortina chose to attack. He started alone on the Bult van Melden. Cortina had problems with his bike and had to stop, meanwhile it was Van der Poel who set the pace in the group. Slipping, Van der Poel rode to the top. Jorgensen and Pedersen were also able to cycle up, in the background the rest of the pack had to set foot.

For a brief moment, Jorgenson seemed to make the jump to Van der Poel, but the Dwars door Vlaanderen winner could not close the gap. Van der Poel embarked on a solo and soon cycled into a one-and-a-half-minute lead. In the chase, it was Teuns and Bettiol who were looking for the podium spots.

Van der Poel's third win was no longer in danger. For second place, Teuns and Bettiol still fell in the final straight. It was Matthews and Mozzato who sprinted to the podium. In the end, Matthews was disqualified, pushing Mozzato up one place and Politt third.

Van der Poel, meanwhile, was victorious, joining the exceptional list of Buysse, Magni, Leman, Museeuw, Boonen and Cancellara with this victory.

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