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Alpecin-Fenix's Mathieu van der Poel won the 2020 Tour of Flanders by just a quarter of a wheel-length from Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in what was a thrilling finale. It nevertheless left many wondering what might have been if road race world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Elegant-QuickStep) hadn't crashed out while part of a leading trio with the winning duo.
What became the winning move came together on the climb of the Taaienberg with just under 40 kilometres to go, when Van Aert got across to join Van der Poel and Alaphilippe. The Frenchman had instigated the move by attacking on the previous climb – the Steenbeekdries – and was soon joined by Van der Poel on the descent, while Van Aert had to work a little harder to get across.
It was a dream scenario for the three pre-race favourites – and for fans and the race organisers alike – but it soon became a nightmare for Alaphilippe, who clipped a slowing race motorbike, seemingly having turned his head slightly away while at the back of the trio to talk into his radio, while the more attentive Van Aert and then Van der Poel simply flicked around it.
Three became two, and Van Aert and Van der Poel continued their collaboration into the final 500 metres – as Van der Poel had said they would if it came to it, despite a war of words between them following the previous weekend's Gent-Wevelgem, where they had marked each other out of contention.
On paper the faster sprinter, Van Art managed to manoeuvre Van der Poel into first position – just where he wanted him – and with the chasing group bearing down on them, Van Aert waited until 200 metres to go to start his sprint, with Van der Poel almost instantaneously reacting, in a visibly much lower gear, which he wound up to stay slightly ahead of his Belgian rival all the way to the line.
The result nevertheless required a photo finish, which went in favour of Van der Poel, with Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) completing the podium by leading the chasers home in Oudenaarde, eight seconds down.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix||5:43:17|
|2||Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|3||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates||0:00:08|
|4||Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|5||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Elegant-Quickstep|
|6||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis|
|7||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale|
|8||Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers|
|9||John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|10||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team Sunweb|
Tour of Flanders 202018 October 2020 | Antwerp | WorldTour
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