Mathieu van der Poel enters the legend of the Tour of Flanders with an amazing performance

Road 31/03/24 16:41 Migue A.

There has never been such a clear favorite to win as in the Tour of Flanders 2024 and Mathieu van der Poel did not disappoint, giving us a new solo exhibition, this time with a superb attack on the iconic Koppenberg where the appearance of rain became a decisive factor in making this climb even more selective.

The iconic Koppenberg decides the Tour of Flanders 2024 in favor of Mathieu van der Poel

Forecasts are rarely fulfilled in the classics, unless there are riders of the caliber of Tadej Pogacar or, as today, Mathieu van der Poel, who in the absence of his archrival Wout van Aert, and with other contenders for victory also affected by the same fall that took out the Belgian, had almost a free pass to achieve his third triumph in the Tour of Flanders, a figure that equals the maximum number of victories that no cyclist has achieved in this race.

A race in which he has not stepped off the podium in the last five editions and that no one had managed to win wearing the rainbow jersey since Peter Sagan did it, by the way, another exclusive club that includes only Louison Bobet, Rik van Looy, Eddy Merckx, and Tom Boonen.

The race started in Antwerp on a cold and sunny morning, and after a long neutralized section, a breakaway was formed in which no relevant names were integrated, nor any cyclists expected to play a tactical role for the favorites for victory.

So the first 150 km passed until, as expected, they approached the climb to the Molenberg. Before that, riders like Mads Pedersen tried to anticipate, and we even saw Matteo Jorgenson closing gaps on the Wolvenberg, however, it was on the Molenberg where the race definitively took off with Pedersen accelerating and Jorgenson and Van der Poel on his wheel. Also, following the usual trend of the race, attacks and counterattacks arrived at the front, serving to make the final selection of the race, separating the wheat from the chaff.

The Movistar riders were caught off guard by this first decisive wall, but they managed to regroup and place Oier Lazkano and Iván García Cortina back in the main group. They reached a section of asphalt walls where we saw Lazkano once again displaying class on the Berendries. Meanwhile, in a silly move, Mads Pedersen tried to surprise and went ahead with Gianni Vermersch, but they did not manage to gain more than 30 seconds of advantage while Alpecin-Deceuninck let them go.

The race entered a few kilometers of stand-by while overcoming walls and approaching the next critical point, the second climb to Oude Kwaremont, and there, once again, a surprising Oier Lazkano tried to make the selection from the front, a move that Mathieu van der Poel supported, ending the breakaway of Pedersen and Vermersch. The Dutchman gained a few meters of advantage, but it was not yet time to push hard, and gradually they regrouped in a very select group.

After a Paterberg climbed at a steady pace, it was time for the most iconic wall in Flanders, with the permission of the Muur-Kapelmuur, the Koppenberg, which was especially decisive because, at that moment, the rain was already hitting the cyclists hard, a circumstance that turns the ascent to this wall on the bike into a mission close to impossible.

Knowing this, Iván García Cortina tried to anticipate a few kilometers before, managing to gain a dozen seconds of advantage in what seemed like a perfect move to be up there with the best. But the wet Koppenberg is a different beast, and on the steepest part of the climb, where the gradient reaches 22% and the worn and uneven cobblestones make it more suitable for cyclocross or mountain biking, the Asturian lost traction and had to dismount.

In the group, Mathieu van der Poel saw this and continued with a plan that he probably had set in his mind for some time, launching an attack that no one could follow, reaching where the Movistar rider was walking and being able to choose his line. Behind, the rest did not have that option, and only Matteo Jorgenson, who crested about 10 seconds behind Van der Poel, and Mads Pedersen, further back, managed to reach the top without dismounting. The rest offered us images of cycling from yesteryear that climate change had deprived us of for many years.

Matteo Jorgenson tried to close the gap, but there are only a couple of kilometers of assault between the Koppenberg and the linking of Marieborrestraat and Steekbendries, where an unstoppable Van der Poel finished breaking away and sealed the outcome of this Tour of Flanders 2024.

Behind, only the battle for second place remained. Cortina tried on the Taaienberg, without success. Ahead, Alberto Bettiol and Dylan Teuns were pulling away, gradually overcoming the usually decisive Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg to reach the final flat section with a handful of seconds over a chasing trio formed by Naesen, Sheffield, and Matthews. And a few seconds behind, a select group with Benoot, who was already suffering a puncture towards the finish, Skujins, Wellens, Politt, among others. The only fight left to be resolved before reaching Oudenaarde.

Mathieu van der Poel had plenty of time to enjoy his victory, although the image of him taking gels just 5 km from the finish, the gap decreasing, albeit very subtly, and the clear signs of fatigue shown on television indicated that this last stretch must not have been as easy as one might think. Still, without any kind of pressure, the long straight that marks the last kilometer allowed him to relax and enjoy a victory, after 45 kilometers solo, that further enhances the legend of this unique cyclist.

An agonizing sprint at the back where the three groups joined less than 100 meters from the finish, and it was the Arkéa-B&B Hotels rider Luca Mozzato who took second place in a photo finish with the indefatigable Michael Matthews who claimed the third step of the podium.

Tour of Flanders 2024 Classification

  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin Deceuninck) 6h05'17''
  2. Luca Mozzato (Arkéa-B&B Hotels) +1'02''
  3. Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) +1'02''
  4. Nils Politt (UAE Team Emirates) +1'02''
  5. Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) +1'02''
  6. Antonio Morgado (UAE Team Emirates) +1'02''
  7. Magnus Sheffield (INEOS Grenadiers) +1'02''
  8. Oliver Naesen (Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale) +1'02''
  9. Dylan Teuns (Israel-PremierTech) +1'02''
  10. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) +1'02''



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Mathieu van der Poel entra en la leyenda del Tour de Flandes con una nueva exhibición


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Mathieu van der Poel entre dans la légende du Tour des Flandres avec une nouvelle démonstration