1 Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
2 Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
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
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2020 Tour of Flanders, a bit later than usual this year...
It's finally here! Good morning from Antwerp 🤩 #RVV20 pic.twitter.com/itkLFCEajaOctober 18, 2020
Riders are currently signing in in Antwerp ahead of the race start which comes in a matter of minutes.
Relaxed and ready for De Ronde 😃#LoveMyQuickStepPhoto: Sigfrid Eggers pic.twitter.com/X8nZYA7tZlOctober 17, 2020
It's a grim and dull day in Antwerp as the riders start the neutralised zone. The riders are all wrapped up in their warmers and over-jerseys.
First cobbles complete and we’re ready to rock 👊 #RVV20 pic.twitter.com/IlpNQ6rbNCOctober 18, 2020
Off they go!
"Heeren vertrekt!" pic.twitter.com/g7uWBqL7J2October 18, 2020
There are a few big names missing – Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) miss out with injury, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is at the Giro d'Italia and mooted debutant Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) ended his season early – but the start list is still packed.
Tiesj Benoot and Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McLaren), Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) are among the other major names to start.
243km to go
The official start is taken and attacks fly from the off at this shortened Tour of Flanders.
There were no fans at the start, reports our man on the ground, Brecht Decaluwé. Hopefully fans stay away from the rest of the race to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Race organisers Flanders Classics didn't publish the route ahead of the time in order to help with this.
We'll have some quotes from the start once things calm down a little at the front of the race.
Astana and Circus-Wanty Gobert are among those trying to make day's break here.
236km to go
Attacks are still going, with Mitchelton-Scott, Cofidis, AG2R La Mondiale all active.
The peloton is strung out here with the pace high at the front.
We have stories from Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, two of the main favourites today, and two men who came to verbal blows after a heated Gent-Wevelgem finale. Check out what they had to say in the lead-up to Flanders below.
229km to go
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, NTT Pro Cycling are among those making moves. Still no breakaway – it's a tough battle to make it.
A group of nine has a small gap but Israel Start-Up Nation have a man on the front of the peloton trying to bring it back.
...and that group is brought back. Circus-Wanty Gobert leads the counter-attacking.
223km to go
The peloton heads through Saint-Niklaas, lined out largely in single file after passing through some sharp turns and narrowing roads.
A small group of five up front now, with a few couples of riders chasing across the gap.
UAE Team Emirates director Allan Peiper just took an unexpected phone call in the team car. "Look mate I'm just in the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the car. Call tomorrow sometime," he says.
Six men up front now with a small gap. Elegant-QuickStep (yes, they've temporarily changed their name for the race) try to block the front of the peloton as team leader Julian Alaphilippe sorts a mechanical behind.
Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Samuele Battistella (NTT Pro Cycling), Danny van Poppel (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Gijs Van Hoecke (CCC Team), Dimitri Peyskens (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Fabio Van Den Bossche (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) are in the move, 25 seconds up on the peloton as Julien Vermote (Cofidis) chases.
214km to go
1:15 for the break now. This is the move of the day as the peloton sits up to let it go.
All calm at the front of the peloton as the riders take a drink and some food, letting the break ride away.
210km to go
Vermote hasn't yet made it across the gap. He's around 45 seconds back.
Trek-Segafredo and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise lead the peloton as the gap goes out to 3:40.
Taco van der Hoorn (Jumbo-Visma) leads the peloton ahead of Trek-Segafredo. Five minutes to the break now, as Kasper Asgreen (Elegant-QuickStep) drops back to the team car to put on a second over-jersey.
Some quotes from the start coming up now. First up, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)...
"There's a long prelude before the exciting part. I hope to have a wide-open race but I expect a strong breakaway group to be up the road. I will not be in there. I don't think they'll allow me.
"I took it easy this week. I'm hoping for super compensation."
And his long-time cyclo-cross and road rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)...
"Gent-Wevelgem was the best example that there's other riders ready to win as well. Despite the absence of Mike Teunissen we still have a strong team. Apart from Mathieu van der Poel I'm expecting a lot from Julian Alaphilippe, Alberto Bettiol, Stefan Küng and Mads Pedersen."
It was a hard start to the @RondeVlaanderen before a break finally formed. Here were @JumboVismaRoad rider @WoutvanAert's first 20km ⚡️Avg speed: 49.5km/hMax speed: 62.3km/hAvg power: 280wMax power: 950wRed Zone: 9%Follow live data in our Race Centre 👇_____🇧🇪 #RVV20October 18, 2020
192km to go
Six minutes is the gap now, while Vermote is two minutes down on the break.
Sep Vanmarcke (EF Pro Cycling) at the start:
"We had to wait for a long time to race the Flemish classics. It was fun to finally be able to race full-out. I love this race."
Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling):
"I'm super happy to finally be back here. It will be super difficult to win again but it is our goal. I'm not the favourite today. There's a few who are stronger. I hope an outsider wins again. I'm not naming anybody."
186km to go
Vermote is giving up the chase. He has dropped to five minutes behind the break now and will soon be back in the peloton.
Mark Cavendish (Bahrain McLaren):
"I'm very glad to be here in Antwerp. I love to race in Belgium. It's my third Ronde. I was in the breakaway the previous two races because the team wanted to race aggressive. That will not be the case again today. We have a different race plan."
Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale):
"I'm no longer hindered by my crash. We did the recon with Romain. He'll find his way.
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale):
"I'm super happy to be here. I'm here with all the flahutes, the classics specialists. This is a race you have to fo at least once in your career. Oli is our man."
Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel Start-Up Nation) stops at the side of the road to kiss his wife and say hello to his kids before getting going again.
Vermote is caught by the peloton, which is 7:10 down.
174km to go
Florian Vermeeersch (Lotto Soudal) crashes on a corner and the Astana car stops to help him. He's back up and running now, though.
Frenchman warms to favourite status ahead of debut at the Ronde
160km to go
The break reaches the first cobbled section of the day, Lippenhovestraat, a 1.3km long section. The peloton will come through in eight minutes.
A crash in the break! Mühlberger tries to throw a musette to the side of the road but gets it caught on his handlebars and hits the ground. He's back up and running now.
It's the first climb of the day for the break now, the Katteberg east of Oudenaarde. It's 500 metres long at an average of seven per cent.
142km to go
Mühlberger makes it back to his breakmates on the Holleweg cobbled section soon after the climb.
pic.twitter.com/EMytklzPdeOctober 18, 2020
Mühlberger is on a Shimano neutral service bike at the moment, a rare sight. He's looking around, presumably for his team car to get a replacement.
Meanwhile, Chris Lawless (Ineos), Juan Diego Alba (Movistar) and Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation) have all been forced to stop and get wheel/bike changes due to punctures.
133km to go
Mühlberger back in the break having taken a team-issue S-Works Tarmac SL7.
Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott) stops for a wheel change after a puncture.
The riders are approaching the Oude Kwaremont, which comes at 123km to go. It's almost the halfway point of De Ronde.
Yet another puncture. This time it's Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale).
Team Sunweb have massed on the front of the peloton now as they approach Oude Kwaremont. Tiesj Benoot and Søren Kragh Andersen are their leaders.
Trek-Segafredo, Elegant-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma are also up there.
126km to go
The break hits the climb. It's partially cobbled, 2.2km long at an average of six per cent and maximum of 11.
Van Hoecke leads the break all the way up and over the top. The peloton are about to start Oude Kwaremont.
123km to go
A hold-up on the lower slopes of the climb after a small crash in the middle of the group. Trek-Segafredo continue to lead up front.
We're past the halfway point of the race now. 7:10 between break and peloton.
114km to go
Another crash in the peloton and this time Wout van Aert is involved. He fell down a grass bank at the side of the road but is back off again.
Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Maurits Lammertink (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Amund Jansen (Jumbo-Visma) plus a rider apiece from Bahrain McLaren and Movistar were also involved.
Ah, it was actually two separate incidents. Van Aert was trying to move up the peloton and was forced to slow, catching a wheel and slowly falling down the verge. Further back, the other men were involved in a different crash across the road.
Van Aert chases back on as part of a small group. Wellens is still coming back.
108km to go
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling) puts in an attack on the approach to the fourth climb of the day, Eikenberg.
The break reach the top of Eikenberg having ridden up the tarmac strip on the side of the road.
105km to go
The peloton have been forced to stop at a level crossing as a train passes through. The break and Boasson Hagen are already through – some free time for the Norwegian.
The barriers came back up pretty quickly and the peloton got through without much delay. Meanwhile, the break start Wolvenberg (645 metres at 7.9 per cent).
Owain Doull (Ineos Grenadiers) leads the peloton up Eikenberg.
The break passes the Holleweg section of cobbles and it looks like the rain has started to fall.
100km to go
Six minutes from break to EBH, who lies 50 seconds up on the peloton.
Now the peloton take on Wolvenberg, led by Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) and Yves Lampaert (Elegant-QuickStep).
The peloton is strung out as Lampaert pushes the pace up front on Holleweg.
96km to go
Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) push on as the break reach the cobbled section of Haaghoek.
5:45 for the break now. The peloton has cut a minute off the lead after that upping of pace.
Elegant-QuickStep take to the front of the peloton now. Boasson Hagen is only a few seconds up the road. The riders have passed through the rain shower.
The peloton ride Haaghoek and Boasson Hagen is caught. Up front, the break reach the Leberg climb.
Trek-Segafredo are back on the front on the approach to Berendries, another climb in quick succession.
Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) drop out the rear of the peloton as De Bondt makes his way back.
86km to go
The peloton is lined out, still under a high pace. The gap is down to 4:30 now.
A look at the peloton.
A small group tries to make it away from the peloton. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) were in there. The pace is staying high.
The break start the Valkenburg climb as a few more riders jump from the peloton.
The climb is 540 metres long at 8.1 per cent.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (NTT Pro Cycling) is one of the men trying to make it away.
81km to go
3:20 to the break now as the peloton crests Valkenburg.
A third (?) bike change for Nils Politt. He's having a tough day.
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) overruns a corners and hits the ground before slowly getting rolling again.
77km to go
Florian Sénéchal (Elegant-QuickStep) brings back the small move off the front. 2:50 to the break.
The riders will pass through the final feed zone of the race soon. They're 6km from Kanarieberg, too.
Another NTT attacker – it's Max Walscheid.
The German has around 15-20 seconds on the peloton.
Dilier and Hugo Hofstetter (ISN) are involved in a small crash but they both look OK.
Wheel change for Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe). Hofstetter looks annoyed as he waits for his team car, pacing around and kicking the air.
72km to go
The break hit Kanarieberg, which is 1km long at 7.7 per cent.
Leonardo Basso (Ineos Grenadiers) and Zdenek Štybar (Elegant-QuickStep) lead the peloton up Kanarieberg.
Štybar pushes on over the top. Walscheid is still off the front, too.
Kwiatkowski and Štybar catch Walscheid after clipping off the front.
65km to go
A couple of groups make it across to them, but so does the peloton. All together and 1:45 up to the break.
A crash in the peloton takes out EF's Sep Vanmarcke and Stefan Bissegger and B&B Hotels-Vital Concept's Jens Debusschere. It was a couple of unrelated touchse of wheels in the peloton.
Vanmarcke gets a new bike after the crash damaged his gearing.
He's chasing on with Taco van der Hoorn. 9km to go until Oude Kwaremont, a bit of a lull in the race with no climbs or cobbles here.
57km to go
Vanmarcke is back in the peloton as just a minute up the road, Peyskens crashes out of the break face-first.
Oude Kwaremont is coming up.
No big moves on Oude Kwaremont there. It's still early. The break is now just 25 seconds up the road now, though.
Just a couple of kilometres to the Paterberg now. We'll see more riders tailed off the rear up there.
52km to go
Ineos are up front on the Paterberg, just behind the break now.
The break hang on over the top, though. They're just 10 seconds up. No big moves in the peloton.
Alaphilippe lost traction a little riding the gutter on the steep section. He's OK though.
50km to go
The break is caught with 50km to go. Some big names – Van der Poel, Naesen, Van Aert move to the front.
The peloton has fallen apart here.
Van Baarle, Devenyns and Alaphilippe jump off the front as a group of riders try to get back to the main group.
Romain Bardet (!), Oliver Naesen and John Degenkolb jump across to the move. The peloton catches up, though.
Koppenberg is coming up.
A look at that brief move.
Daar is de wereldkampioen! Devenyns, Alaphilippe en Van Baarle rijden even voorop #RVV20 pic.twitter.com/CZUkLxyJebOctober 18, 2020
Van Baarle and Bardet continue to push on.
45km to go
Romain Bardet leads the race as the riders hit the Koppenberg, as expected...
Alaphilippe makes a move! Naesen, Van der Poel behind him.
The world champion is really going for it here.
Alaphilippe has joined a Total Direct Energie rider Anthony Turgis ahead of an elite chase group.
43km to go
Van Aert, Van der Poel, Naesen, Van Baarle are in that group, who make it across.
More riders are chasing on now. The groups are all merging here.
They hit the cobbled section of Marieborrestraat, which leads to Steenbeekdries.
40km to go
Around 20 riders in the front group now, as the CCC directors lament that "the race is finished" for them.
Valgren, Kwiatkowski, Mezgec, Pedersen are still chasing on.
Alaphilippe pushes on once again on the cobbled descent as Van der Poel chases.
Alaphilippe imponeert op de Koppenberg, andere favorieten moeten achtervolgen #RVV20 pic.twitter.com/uDqStnQ8oIOctober 18, 2020
Alaphilippe and Van der Poel are away!
Van Aert is coming across, too. The three big favourites off the front as they hit the cobbled climb of the Taaienberg (530 metres at 6.6 per cent, max 15 per cent).
Naesen leads the chase behind. The gap looks to be maybe 10 seconds.
Van der Poel almost loses it after taking a corner no-handed as he took a bottle from a soigneur.
Four men are chasing the lead trio – Bettiol, Sénéchal, Asgreen and Valentin Madouas.
Naesen is in the next (larger) group on the road with Vanmarcke and several others.
36km to go
10km to go until the next difficulty – Kruisberg/Hotond. The chase group have been reabsorbed, but the Alaphilippe-Van der Poel-Van Aert group is still out front.
He's in a lot of pain and isn't getting up.
He hit a moto at the side of the roadfrom behind...
It looks certain to be race over for Alaphilippe.
The moto was going slow at the side of the road, Van der Poel jinked around it but it looked like Alaphilippe was unsighted and had nowhere to go.
Jesus... Alaphilippe's race is done #RVV20 #RVVmen pic.twitter.com/JDJgWclSCiOctober 18, 2020
Meanwhile, 35 seconds between Van Aert-Van der Poel and the chasers.
A look at what was the lead group... Now the 'Van' duo are 40 seconds up on the chase.
The chase group: Alberto Bettiol, Sep Vanmarcke, Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal, John Degenkolb, Oliver Naesen, Jasper Stuyven, Valentin Madouas, Dylan Teuns, Dylan van Baarle, Tiesj Benoot, Alexander Kristoff, Dimitri Claeys, Arjen Livyns, Xavier Meurisse, Andrea Pasqualon, Anthony Turgis.
They're 55 seconds down.
24km to go
Van der Poel and Van Aert are 1:05 up now.
World champion's injuries unconfirmed
6km to go until Oude Kwaremont. Paterberg follows, and then it's the run to the finish...
Our two leaders. After all the polemica of Gent-Wevelgem, they're forced to work together here to stave off the chasers and contest the victory.
19km to go
The two leaders hit Oude Kwaremont for the final time now. 1:15 to the chasers.
Van der Poel is on the front as they hit the cobbles.
Their advantage is only going up now. The chase group hardly looked like they were flying along.
No moves from either of the duo up front on Oude Kwaremont. Van Aert takes to the front as they hit the false flat over the top.
Naesen has attacked the chase group on Oude Kwaremont.
16km to go
He has little chance of bridging a 1:15 gap on his own, though.
Just the Paterberg remains now. Van Aert vs Van der Poel for the win at the Tour of Flanders.
Van der Poel tightens his shoes. Van Aert leads the way for now.
They hit Paterberg! Van der Poel leads the way.
This crucial cobbled climb is 360 metres long at 12.9 per cent with a maximum gradient of 20.3 per cent.
They're equal to one another so far.
13km to go
Van der Poel leads the pair over the top of the climb. All on the finish and the flat run-in to Oudenaarde, then.
Naesen still chases, 1:10 back. Vanmarcke leads the rest of the chasers.
Now we wait. Neither man will go on the attack this far out, but will they try a move at all? Or will they rely on their strong sprints?
10km to go
The rain is falling again lightly. The gap drops under a minute as Naesen is caught.
How it started --- How it's now pic.twitter.com/Cd3snEl2u9October 18, 2020
8km to go
If they go to the line together I would bet on Van Aert to prevail here. The gap is hovering around the minute mark.
That said, it's been a hard day out and who knows how the racing has effected their legs.
6km to go
No change in situation right now. The two are still taking their turns, still co-operating. The rain is still falling.
There has been no further news on Alaphilippe's condition yet, by the way.
5km to go
50 seconds back to the chasers, who are certainly battling for third.
4km to go
The tension is building but the gap and situation remains the same.
3km to go
This is it. The big finale. Which of these two long-time rivals across road and cyclo-cross will win the 2020 Tour of Flanders?
2km to go
Still no movement. There are attacks behind, though. Naesen is involved.
The gap is down to 40 seconds but the leaders are safe, barring disaster.
1km to go
Final kilometre! Van der Poel is on the front and looking around.
500m to go
He's still on the front. Still looking back.
Van Aert is forcing Van der Poel to lead it out.
250m to go
No sprint yet. Van der Poel still on the front!
They launch with around 150 metres to go! Van Aert can't get past!
Van Aert draws alongside Van der Poel but it's the Dutchman who takes it!
Mathieu van der Poel has won the Tour of Flanders!
This is how close it was...
They couldn't be separated until the last metres. What a duel.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) took third place ahead of Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) and Yves Lampaert (Elegant-QuickStep).
Van der Poel follows in the wheeltracks of his father Adrie, who won this race back in 1986.
Here's the finish, with Van der Poel just edging it at the line.
A snippet of what Van der Poel had to say after the finish:
"Normally I always see [who won]. But I was so broken. I looked past the line at Wout, but neither of us knew it. I knew I had to do the sprint of my life to beat Wout. I did it."
Now for the podium ceremony...
A customary handshake between Van der Poel and Van Aert and Kristoff. No snubbing here. The Dutchman collects his trophy and the trio duly spray the Lidl champagne.
Van der Poel:
"I have no words for this. I am speechless. I wasn't sure – normally I always feel [who won], but I was so broken in the sprint. All of the sudden the measure was there and I had to jump. I looked at Wout's wheel, but neither of us knew. I always believed in it.
"I was looking behind me at Wout, not at the chasers. I knew that the later the sprint was started, the more it became to my advantage. The fact that Wout started late was a sign that he too was tired to death. I caught him perfectly, but he came halfway next to me.
"Then the acidification came to my ears. Suddenly it was there. I feared I was too late with my jump. I didn't dare to cheer. They told me twice that I had won, but I asked for confirmation ten times. This makes up for so much. The number 51 [like father Adrie] will be something special."
Read our brief report on the 2020 Tour of Flanders here
Third-place finisher Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) after the finish:
"The race was a bit different. We missed the spectators but we must be happy it was possible to race at all in the circumstances.
"I didn't expect to be on the podium – Van der Poel, Van Aert and Alaphilippe showed to be on another level. Luckily for me and unluckily for QuickStep and Alaphilippe he crashed. There was still a podium spot and I managed to take it, so I'm happy with that."
Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), who finished fourth:
"It didn't matter if I was the fourth man. The three best were ahead. I was right at the front on the Koppenberg, I was still with them then. I couldn't resist the attack of the first three. I did everything I could, I can't blame myself. It's an annoying result, but there's nothing to be done about it. That nobody worked in the chase? That's the course, isn't it?"
Julian Alaphilippe has suffered two fractured bones in his right hand, his team has confirmed.
🇧🇪 #RVV20 Disappointed today, but proud about his fantastic season tomorrow!🆙️ pic.twitter.com/iy9qpthovDOctober 18, 2020
The Women's Tour of Flanders is approaching the final kilomtres
A bit from runner-up Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) after the finish...
"It's simple – he was just that little bit stronger. I wanted to be the first to go, from the wheel, but i waited a little too long. I have more length in my sprint but I didn't use it enough. It's too bad; I will lose sleep tonight.
"We had a lot of chat in the race. We went through all of the newspaper articles together. No, seriously – we focussed on the race and worked well together."
The Women's Tour of Flanders has just finished.
A great shot of the finish, with the big two battling it out and the chase group in their wake.
Our updated report on the Alaphilippe crash is here.
Our full race report is also up.
Dutchman outsprints Wout Van Aert as Alaphilippe crashes out of winning breakaway
The winning bike of tour of flanders 2020 pic.twitter.com/UPfNE1A03lOctober 18, 2020
🤷🏼♂️🤷🏼♂️😤one of the most frustrated moments i ever had,...beeing in the 1st group while the race is exploding and feeling that your front tire is loosing air🙄 https://t.co/uev1OaQUf4October 18, 2020
Now we couldn't have taken our revenge in @Paris_Roubaix , but no ..... 😓 #wolfpack @deceuninck_qstOctober 18, 2020
Quick reaction on hitting the car of @TeamSunweb:-I was frustrated after crashing and the bikechange.-the car passed my feet very close at that moment. -Then I did the wrong action. -I allready apologized to them. pic.twitter.com/xxFVJ34w9cOctober 18, 2020
'It was incredible to sprint for victory against Van Aert, knowing where we came from'
A photo posted by @kramon_velophoto on Oct 18, 2020 at 10:37am PDT
Italian can't match last year's winning ride
'Luckily for me, but unfortunate for QuickStep and Alaphilippe, there was still a podium spot'
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