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Van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders for the second time

Cat and mouse games in the final kilometre ruin Pogačar's race

Photo by: Sirotti

Mathieu van der Poel didn’t blink in the final 300 metres of Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, allowing chasers to catch up with him and Tadej Pogačar before he sprinted to his second Tour of Flanders title in three years. Cat and mouse games between the Dutchman and Slovenian in the final kilometre meant that Pogačar was shut out of the podium.

The Course

The Ronde held 11 cobbled sections, 13 hills and five cobbled hills over a grueling 272 kilometres. Attacks would thin out the pack after the second climb of cobbled Oude Kwaremont with 57 km remaining, several hills following in quick succession. As in E3 Saxo Bank the race ended with the pairing of Oude Kwaremont and the 400-metre, 13.5 percent Paterberg 12.5 km from the finish line in Oudenaarde.

A breakaway of nine scrambled loose after multiple early attacks. The nontet had a 4:00 gap by the time it hit the opening hill, Oude Kwaremont I. On the narrow Molenberg, with 102 km to go, Nathan van Hooydonck of Jumbo-Visma bounced away from the peloton. Quick Step chased.

It was Ivan Garcia Cortina’s surge on the Berendries that created a dozen-strong group that included Mads Pederson (Denmark/Trek-Segafredo), Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic/Quick Step) and 2019 winner EF Alberto Bettiol (Italy/Education-EasyPost). This new bunch found van Hooydonck. Total Energies, UAE-Emirates, Bahrain-Victorious pursued. Christophe Laporte of Jumbo-Visma was one of the riders taken down in a crash.

On the Berg Ten Houte with 77 km to go, action from Matteo Trentin and Victor Campenaerts at the head of the peloton split it and brought the Pederson group closer. The early breakaway was a minute up the road.

By the second ascent of Oude Kwaremont, the Pederson group was 20 seconds clear and the break was 43 seconds ahead. Pogačar attacked when the peloton made contact and at first only Kasper Asgreen could go with him. The last fugitive was sopped up.

Van der Poel chases Pogacar on the Oude Kwaremont.

A 30-man group assailed the Paterberg with 51 km to race. The group fragmented and Pogačar, Pederson, van der Poel, Laporte and Tom Pidcock were in the new dozen. Ineos had the numbers and the group swelled.

Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries, Stationsberg and Taaienberg came in quick succession. The race hit the Koppenberg (600 metres, 11.6 percent) and two riders from the Pogačar bunch dashed ahead to take it on. Pogačar pushed clear and then van der Poel took over the whip. Asgreen suffered an untimely puncture.

Pogačar, van der Poel and Valentin Madouas inched closer to the two leaders after the Steenbeekdries (3.2 km, 7.6 percent). The chase was 40 seconds back. It took the Taaienberg to form a leading quintet. Pogačar accelerated.

With 34 km and three cobbled climbs to go, the Pogačar Five had a 40-second gap. Before the Kruisberg/Hotond the clock crept up to a minute.

Only the final Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg combination remained. On the Kwaremont’s 11.6 percent section, Pogačar rode everyone but van der Poel off his wheel. Pogačar couldn’t drop the Dutchman on the Paterberg.


There was little to do but keep ahead of the chasers and anticipate the sprint.

Van der Poel led under the red kite, the closest pursuers 20 seconds behind. They began to play games allowing Madouas and Dylan van Baarle to catch. Pogačar threw his hands up in frustration as he realized he had been undone. The Tour de France champion didn’t even make the podium.

A swamped Pogacar throws his hands up in despair at the finish.

2022 Ronde van Vlaanderen
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Fenix) 6:18:30
2) Dylan van Baarle (The Netherlands/Ineos-Grenadiers) s.t.
3) Valentin Madouas (France/Groupama-FDJ) s.t.