The finish of the 2022 Tour of Flanders was one of the most memorable in recent history, with Mathieu van der Poel emerging victorious and his breakaway companion Tadej Pogačar shut out of the podium after the pair were caught by two chasers, Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), who sprinted past to snatch second and third.
However, Van Baarle revealed to the Belgian media on Thursday that he had received an apology from Pogačar on Monday via Instagram.
The confrontation was brief and in the heated aftermath of a frantic Tour of Flanders finale that saw Van der Poel and Pogačar's 30-second advantage on Van Baarle and Madouas evaporate in an instant as the leaders slowed and watched each other ahead of the final sprint.
After Van der Poel opened up the dash for the line, Madouas and Van Baarle leapt past Pogačar to get on the Alpecin-Fenix rider's wheel and, as the line approached, Van Baarle moved slightly to his right to get into the draft, blocking Pogačar from accelerating in an already futile sprint.
In the heat of the moment, Pogačar turned around to confront Van Baarle after the line.
"These things happen in a sprint," Van Baarle said as the Tour de France champion gesticulated angrily.
Van Baarle and Pogačar separately dismissed the incident, with the Dutchman wryly saying afterwards: "He wasn’t saying congratulations after the finish line." Pogačar, meanwhile, admitted he was angry with himself for botching the finale.
"In the moments immediately following the race, I was not happy, because I was not able to make the sprint as I was closed, but I know well that in cycling this can happen: sometimes you have a clear path, other times you do not find the necessary space," Pogačar said in the team's statement. "I wasn’t mad at anyone, I was just frustrated with myself.
However, he later was able to look back on his debut Tour of Flanders and relish in the atmosphere, getting caught up on the Belgian passion for their home Monument.
"I think I love this race," Pogačar told reporters at the team bus following the race. "All in all, it was a great experience. It was a really amazing race. The team was super and perfect. We lit it up in the finale, me alone with Mathieu [van der Poel], and the atmosphere on the climbs was incredible."
Pogačar is scheduled to race next at La Flèche Wallonne before defending his title in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.
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