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Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) wins the Tour of Flanders 2022 in an incredible final!

Added: sunday 03 April 2022 at 18:06:00
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    Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) wins the Tour of Flanders 2022 in an incredible final!Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), already the winner in 2020 and 2nd last year, managed to win his second "Flanders Finest"! This was however far from sure when he was in the last kilometer towards the finish, in a duo with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). Indeed, at the last moment they were taken back by a chasing duo with whom they'd been in the breakaway before. In the end, it thus turns out to be possible to end 4th in a sprint à deux because Pogačar got stuck and thus ended 4th, behind Dylan van Baarle (INEOS Grenadiers) and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ)!

    The summary of the Tour of Flanders 2022

    After the start in Antwerp at 10AM and the real start 9.3 kilometers further at 10.21AM, we saw several breakaway attempts but it was only around kilometer 15 that today's breakaway was formed by 9 riders, of 9 different teams: Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën Team), Sébastien Grignard (Lotto-Soudal), Lindsay de Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauzen-WB), Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Tom Bohli (Cofidis) and Max Kanter (Movistar Team). Not surprisingly the teams who didn't have any riders in this breakaway tried to contrl the peloton, especially with Alpecin-Fenix, UAE Team Emirates and INEOS Grenadiers.

    The race was fast the whole day long, with an average speed for the leading riders in the first hour of no less than 47.8 km/h. For the peloton behind them the rythm was quite high as well and after 65 kilometer in the race (and thus 50 kilometers with the 9 leading) the breakaway's gap on the peloton was only 4 minutes and it was not even getting higher at that point. While they started dressed for the cold, it was time for most of the riders to get rid of their leg warmers and the arm warmes and winter vests would follow later on, to get in the battle dress for what would follow!

    At the time the breakaway got to Oudenaarde, the epicenter of the Tour of Flanders, their gap is a little bit up, to 4'44", but with still about 150 kilometers and a bunch of climbs to follow that was not really impressive.

    What was however was the arrival in the area with the different mounts and the fact that there were no less than 18 climbs waiting for the riders of this 106th edition of the Tour of Flanders. At the first climb of the Oude Kwaremont, one of the favourites, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), doesn't show any nervousness and he doesn't even try to get well placed before the start of the climb, probably thinking that at this time of the race there are no real serious things to happen. One of the other favourites, Dylan van Baarle, one of the two leaders (with Tom Pidcock) of the INEOS Grenadiers team, probably thought that it was indeed not here that one could win the race but that it might be here that one can lose the race when he discovers that the new bike he gets after a problem with his original bike immediately shows a flat front tyre.

    And that is probably also what the riders behind the duo Piet Allegaert (Cofidis) and Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) thought when these two crashed in the third climb of the day, the Achterberg, since all riders behind them were stuck behind the crash. There as well it was finally without any impact because there was plenty of time to get back in the peloton even before the start of the next climb.

    On the Molenberg, 5th climb of the day, and while the breakaway had a 3'30" gap on the peloton at that time, we finally saw really something happening at the head of the peloton, when Nathan van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma) started the chase of the 9 leading riders, accompanied by Jonas Koch (Bora-Hansgrohe). At the end of the next climb, the Berendries, it's Iván Garcia (Movistar Team)'s turn to accellerate and a nice chasing group gets formed by Zdenek Štybar (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), Ben Turner (INEOS Grenadiers), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Jannik Steimle (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), Mick van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma), Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Marco Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Easypost) with him. When they get back on van Hooydonck and Koch there are thus no less than 13 riders chasing behind the 9 riders at the head of the race. At 86 kilometers from the finish the 13 are at 2'43" behind the breakaway, while the peloton is 32 seconds behind them (3'15" behind the breakaway).

    A crash includes several riders, among which Christophe Laporte, one of the other favourites now his team mate at Jumbo-Visma, Wout van Aert, who made the Tour of Flanders his main goal this season, was stopped from doing so due to a Covid19 infection.

    The peloton gets reduced by this crash and by the climbs which follow and while Laporte gets back in the peloton, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Kévin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ) and Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic) get away, chasing behind the chasers and the breakaway. At 10 kilometers from a new climb of the Oude Kwaremont the first group of 13 chasers has reduced its delay on the breakaway to 29 seconds, while the trio with Wellens is at 55 seconds and the peloton at 1'40". The trio gets back on the 13 even before the start of the climb of the Oude Kwaremont, but the gaps start to reduce seriously at that point.

    This second climb of the Kwaremont is for Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) thus the occasion to show an explosion of force, followed by Kasper Asgreen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team).

    This surprise attack totally opens up the race of course and a group of favourites gets formed in the next climb, the Paterberg. Asgreen doesn't manage to follow and the group at the head of the race is at that time formed by Pogačar and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Dylan van Baarle (INEOS Grenadiers), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers), Mads Pedersen, Ben Turner, Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), Christophe Laporte and Iván Garcia, who little by little get company from some other riders.

    From this group, Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) and Dylan van Baarle decide to attack going to the Koppenberg (the 13th climb of the race). In the chase we then have Pogačar, van der Poel and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), while Kasper Asgreen - even though he managed to get back - is the victim of a mechanical problem on the top of this climb. Before they start with the Taaienberg, this trio bridges the gap with the leading duo and on this climb, Pogačar continues showing his strengths, but on the Kruisberg the 5 riders are back together and stay together in this climb.

    In the third climb of the Oude Kwaremont, Pogačar again makes the group fall apart, but Mathieu van der Poel is able to follow the Slovenian rider in this battle. Together they do the last climb, the Paterberg, and it's thus these two together who go on towards the finish line. Everything seems thus ready for a sprint à deux.

    In the last kilometer, while Valentin Madouas and Dylan van Baarle already get dangerously close, Mathieu van der Poel stops his legs for several times since Pogačar doesn't start the sprint either: just like two riders on the track waiting for the start of the sprint. In such a way that the chasing duo finally comes back on them and van der Poel is forced to start his sprint from afar, to cross the finish line first. Van Baarle and Madouas follow him in this effort and there was thus a 4th place for Pogačar in what was supposed to be a sprint à deux!

    The Tour of Flanders 2022 classification

    >> Click heere to see the top 10 and the full classification of the Tour of Flanders 2022

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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Currently 1 comments!
  1. It was kind of reverse of 2019 when MVDP chased down Alaphillipe and Fuglsang on his own, did his own lead out and beat them on the line. Like Pogacar, playing games and not got through in the last km cost a podium place as a minimum, maybe even a win.

    | Greg T | monday 04 April 2022 at 6:41:42

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