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Cycling: Van der Poel is Flanders record winner – Politt fourth

Cycling: Van der Poel is Flanders record winner – Politt fourth

After Wout van Aert’s retirement, Mathieu van der Poel was the sole favorite for the Tour of Flanders. And the road cycling world champion delivered.

Mathieu van der Poel has won the Tour of Flanders for the third time and has become one of the record winners. The road cycling world champion reached the finish in Oudenaarde after 270.8 kilometers as a soloist and won, as he did in 2020 and 2022. In addition to the 29-year-old, only six other riders have managed to win “De Ronde” three times.

“It was all about survival today. Because of the weather, it was the toughest circuit I’ve ever ridden,” said van der Poel. “Winning Flanders in the World Cup jersey is a dream come true. I’m completely exhausted.” After the injury-related retirement of his great rival Wout van Aert and the withdrawal of defending champion Tadej Pogacar, the Dutchman entered the race that started in Antwerp as a hard-to-beat favorite.

The Italian Luca Mozzato took second place, and the Australian Michael Matthews came third in the fastest Tour of Flanders in history with an average speed of 44.5 kilometers per hour. As expected, the best German was Nils Politt. The Cologne native finished fourth and recorded his best result in Flanders. The highlight of his classic season should be Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.

Falls caused by spectators

Hundreds of thousands of fans lined the streets of Flanders on Belgium’s unofficial national holiday – sometimes too close to the drivers. Two crashes were apparently caused by drivers colliding with onlookers. In one case, Giro stage winner Nico Denz was involved.

Van der Poel’s opponents had to counter the big favorite primarily with team strength. The attacks on the Dutchman began at Molenberg about 100 kilometers from the finish. The Visma-Lease a bike and Lidl-Trek teams in particular tried to stress van der Poel. Initially without effect.

Decision at Koppenberg

45 kilometers from the finish, van der Poel struck back at the dreaded Koppenberg. The cobblestones on the up to 22 percent steep climb had become almost impassable due to the rain, only the Dutchman, Matteo Jorgensen and Mads Pedersen remained on the bike. The rest of the pursuers had to get off and push.

It would prove to be a decisive attack. Van der Poel pulled through and increased his lead at Mariaborrestraat to over half a minute. The cross world champion was able to master the last ride over the double challenge of Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg in almost enjoyment mode. In six participations in Flanders, van der Poel has never been worse than fourth.

Source: Stern

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