Mathieu van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders for a third time

Mathieu van der Poel rode through Belgian rain and into history as he joined an elite group who have won the Tour of Flanders three times

Mathieu van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders for a third time

The 29-year-old Dutch rider finished just over a minute ahead of the chasers as he became the sixth rider in the 111-year history of the race to claim three victories. 

Just before the line Teijs Benoot and Alberto Bettiol were caught and passed.

In the sprint, Italian Luca Mozzato grabbed second, one minute and two seconds behind, outsprinting Australian Michael Matthews to the line. But Matthews was then penalised for dangerous sprinting and German Nils Politt awarded third.

"Winning the Tour of Flanders with the world champion's rainbow jersey on your back is a dream come true," said Van der Poel, "I've already had a successful season. It was one of the hardest races of my life. I was dead in the last few kilometres, but I closed my eyes and kept pressing on the pedals."

No one has won cycling's oldest 'monument' four times. The last man to complete a hat-trick was Swiss Fabian Cancellara in 2014. Van der Poel's previous triumphs were in 2020 and 2022. Reigning world champion Mathieu van der Poel now joins Buysse, Magni, Leman, Museeuw, Boonen and Cancellara in the Flanders hattrick club.

His two most powerful one-day rivals were absent. Wout Van Aert broke a collarbone and ribs in Dwars four days earlier, and defending Flanders champion, Tadej Pogacar, is skipping the spring classics as he targets a Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double.

In their absence Van der Poel, who won two of cycling's five super-long monuments and the road-race world title last season, started as overwhelming favourite and the number one target for his rivals.

Sunday's slog through the second and most sacred 'monument' took riders over 270.3 kilometres and up 17 legendary climbs. It started raining with 80 km to go that made the cobbled sections very slippery, already muddy from15,000 amateurs who rode the course the day before.

Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) spent most of the first 220 kilometres keeping breakaways in check. Mads Pedersen, who outsprinted Van der Poel in last week's Gent-Wevelgem, launched a long-range attack but only magaed to gain around 20s lead.

Van der Poel caught the Dane on the Oude Kwaremont climb, with 55km kilometres to go, and put in an attack that significantly reduced the peloton.

Ivan Garcia escaped, built a lead of 10 seconds, but slipped on the steep cobbled climb of the infamous Kloppenberg which was wet and muddy.

Van der Poel passed the Spaniard and attacked with 44 km to go. Behind, American Matteo Jorgenson, winner of Dwars, briefly gave chase getting within 8s of the world champion. Behind the chasing peloton had to dismount and carry their bikes up the steepest part of the Koppenburg.

Six times cyclocross world champion Van der Poel was at ease in pouring rain and treacherous surfaces and time-trialled to the finish line.

With 10km left, he led by 1 minute and 10 seconds from a seven-rider chasing group that had begun to argue among themselves.

HIGHLIGHTS: 2024 Tour of Flanders

2024 Tour of Flanders Top 10

1  VAN DER POEL Mathieu Alpecin - Deceuninck 6:05:17
2  MOZZATO Luca Arkéa - B&B Hotels 1:02
3  POLITT Nils UAE Team Emirates 1:02
4  BJERG Mikkel UAE Team Emirates 1:02
5  MORGADO António UAE Team Emirates 1:02
6  SHEFFIELD Magnus INEOS Grenadiers 1:02
7  NAESEN Oliver Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team 1:02
8  TEUNS Dylan Israel - Premier Tech 1:02
9  BETTIOL Alberto EF Education - EasyPost 1:02
10  SKUJINŠ Toms Lidl - Trek 1:02

Tag: classics
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