- - Tour of Flanders 2024

Tour of Flanders 2024

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took an astounding solo victory at the Tour of Flanders 2024 when he rode away from the field with 45km remaining to stretch out to a winning margin of 1:02

Behind him, a two-man breakaway of Alberto Bettiol (EF Education–EasyPost) and Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech) was caught on the finish line by a chase group from which Luca Mozzato (Arkéa – B&B Hotels) sprinted to second place and Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) took third.

Matthews was later relegated for dangerous sprinting, allegedly deviating from his line to not allow Nils Politt (UAE Team Emirates) to pass him, meaning that fourth-place finisher Pollit moved onto the podium.

The only moment that Van der Poel’s supremacy looked in serious doubt was with 100km to go when Alpecin briefly lost control of the race and a group of 10 strong riders disappeared into the distance.

The Dutchman appeared unable to respond but his team-mates eventually hauled the break down while Van der Poel’s biggest pre-race rival Mads Pedersen (Lidl–Trek) spent an hour dangling just ahead of the chasers, which cost the Dane dearly when things really kicked off and he eventually finished outside of the top 10.

It’s unlikely he could have done anything to stop Van der Poel though, who now holds the joint-most De Ronde wins in history, joining six other riders including Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara who have taken hat-tricks.

“It was just about surviving today, it’s the hardest one I’ve ever ridden with this weather,” an exhausted Van der Poel said at the finish.

“The last 20km was almost with my eyes shut, I was so fatigued I didn’t even think about it. The rain made the cobbled climb so hard, the Koppenberg was ridiculously hard – I was just slipping and sliding all the way to the top. With this wind it was pretty far to go alone, at the end the keg was empty.”

Race Highlights

One of the biggest races in the calendar, attacks for the victory started from 100km to go. The first meaningful move came courtesy of Pedersen, who accelerated on the 400m-long Molenberg, agitating the bunch, and pulling away a select group of the race favourites, save for Van der Poel, who bided his time in the group behind. 

When the Dutchman zipped across the gap 10km later, Pedersen attacked again off the front. Van der Poel would not earn his third win easily, it became clear. His Alpecin-Deceuninck team-mate Gianni Vermeersch followed Pedersen to police the move. 

With 55km to go, on the second of three ascents of the Oude Kwaremont, Van der Poel caught and passed the leading duo. Would he go solo? Not just yet. The group reassembled a few kilometers later, and scaled the Paterberg as one.

Ivan García Cortina (Movistar) led onto the Koppenberg, the steepest of the hellingen in the race, but fell victim to a mechanical and stepped off onto the cobbles. 

As the Spaniard tinkered frantically with his bike, Van der Poel flew over his shoulder. One bike length, two bike lengths. The gap to his rivals behind grew on the slippery, double-figure gradients. Matteo Jorgenson (Visma-Lease a Bike) chased, while almost every other rider unclipped and walked up the cobbles. A peculiar sight,  befitting of the sportive held the day before, but telling of the difficulty of the pitch.

For the six-time cyclo-cross world champion, the Koppenberg was light work. His seven-second advantage to Jorgenson stretched out on the descent. Within moments, he was almost two minutes clear, and cruising over the famous finale pairing of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg. 

With the finish line in sight, Van der Poel slowed to freewheel and soak in the moment. He then lifted his bike above his head, a Belgian-born Dutchman, triumphant in Flanders once again.

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