Mathieu van der Poel wins his third Tour of Flanders

Mathieu van der Poel wins his third Tour of Flanders

Oudenaarde (Belgium) (AFP) – The Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel became the seventh rider in history to win the Tour of Flanders for the third time on Sunday March 31 in Oudenaarde by winning in apocalyptic conditions, after a solo raid of 44 kilometers.

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Big favorite of the “Ronde” in the absence of Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogačar, the Alpecin rider made the difference in the Koppenberg, a particularly steep mountain, where he managed to stay on his bike while most of his competitors dismounted on cobblestones made terribly slippery by the rain.

Starting alone, the reigning world champion continued to widen the gap to win with a little over a minute ahead of Luca Mozzato and Nils Politt (Michael Matthews was downgraded), the largest gap since the victory of Fabio Cancellara in 2013. It is the fifth Monument of his career, a record for an active rider which he now shares with Tadej Pogačar, the winner of 2023.

Winning the Tour of Flanders with the rainbow world champion jersey on your back is a dream come true. My season is already successful », Commented the grandson of Raymond Poulidor. “ I’m shattered, it was one of the hardest races of my life, I was dead in the last few kilometers but I closed my eyes and kept pressing the pedals “, he added.

On an ice rink

After this new success in the Tour of Flanders which he had already won in 2020 and 2022, van der Poel announces himself as the big favorite next Sunday for Paris-Roubaix where he won in 2023. After equaling Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman, Johan Museeuw, Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara with a third victory in the Ronde, he can in the future become the first rider in history to win it four times.

The race was decided 44 km from the finish, in a scene from another time which made the legend of the Ronde. At the head of a group of a dozen riders, the Dutch acrobat managed to stay on his bike on a slope of more than 20%, while almost all his competitors had to unclip and finish the climb by pushing their bike. machine by hand, like in cyclocross, due to not being able to get back on their pedals. Matteo Jorgenson and Mads Pedersen, on the attack for many kilometers, were, with Dylan Teuns, the only other riders to finish in their saddle on the Koppenberg ice rink.

Mathieu van der Poel winner of the Tour de France in Oudenaarde on March 31, 2024

But, slowed down by their competitors floundering in the mud, they reached the summit of the mountain with an already crippling delay and van der Poel continued to increase his lead to fly towards victory.