Mathieu van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders

In a finish for the ages, the duel that we all wanted to see saw Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) outsprint Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) by the narrowest of margins to win the Tour of Flanders.

The two favourites and long-time rivals were out on their own for the closing 35 kilometres after world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Elegant-QuickStep) crashed out of their three-man break, matching each other over the final climbs. Coming into the final kilometre, Van Aert stopped coming through and sat on Van der Poel’s wheel. The pair slowed, Van der Poel staying close to the right-hand barrier, ensuring that his Belgian opponent would have to jump to the left when he made his move.

Van Aert waited for his moment. With 200 metres to the line, the Jumbo-Visma rider accelerated to the Dutchman’s left, the pair sprinting side by side all the way to the line, Van der Poel’s bike throw just giving him the edge. Moments later, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) led in the 15-rider group behind to take third place.

“I have no words for this. I am speechless,” said Van der Poel. “I wasn’t sure – normally I always feel [who won], but I was so broken in the sprint. All of a sudden the line was there and I had to jump. I looked at Wout’s wheel, but neither of us knew. 

“I was looking behind me at Wout, not at the chasers,” the Dutch champion continued. “I knew that the later the sprint was started, the more it was 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 alongside me. I was afraid I was too late with my jump. I didn’t dare cheer. They told me twice that I had won, but I asked for confirmation 10 times.”

Van der Poel, who was wearing race number 51, said that it had been pointed out to him that his father Adrie had been wearing the same number when he won Flanders in 1986. 

“It’s incredible. Maybe number 51 is something special. They told me about it, but I didn’t believe it,” he said.

How it unfolded

The pace was intense from the start in Antwerp, several attacks going and being chased down in the opening kilometres. Six riders then managed to break the elastic and go clear: 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) and Fabio Van Den Bossche (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). Cofidis’s Julien Vermote chased behind them for a while but never bridged the gap.

The break’s lead reached a maximum of seven-and-a-half minutes at the halfway point, when the speed at the front of the peloton started to rise considerably. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling) was the first to launch an attack from the bunch approaching the fourth climb of the day, the Eikenberg, with 108km remaining.

After the Norwegian had been reeled in, a small group containing Alexander Kristoff and Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) clipped away off the front of bunch. But Elegant-QuickStep were quick to respond, Florian Sénéchal (Elegant-QuickStep) bringing them back into line as the break’s lead dwindled to less than three minutes with 77km to go.

Crossing the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, the break, now reduced to just four riders, managed to hang on. But its advantage was a mere 10 seconds as they crested the latter, and they were swept up with 50km remaining.

The favourites were very evident at the front now, and Alaphilippe was the first to chance his arm, darting away with teammate Dries Devenyns and Ineos Grenadiers' Dylan van Baarle. AG2R duo Romain Bardet and Oliver Naesen and Lotto-Soudal’s John Degenkolb jumped across to them, but the peloton was quick to respond coming towards the climb of the Koppenberg.

Van Baarle and Bardet kept their sortie going on to the Koppenberg, where Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) joined them, the Frenchman then pushing on alone. Towards the top of the climb, Alaphilippe accelerated across the gap to Turgis, seven riders giving chase, Van Aert and Van der Poel among them. Once more, though, the peloton responded and it all came back together on the cobbles of Marieborrestraat.

On the next climb, Steenbeekdries, Alaphilippe accelerated again. On the tricky cobbled descent away from it, he was joined by Van der Poel. Approaching the Taaienberg, with less than 40km remaining, Van Aert rode up to join the pair.

The trio began to collaborate and establish a useful gap. However, as they were passing an organisation motorbike that was on the right-hand side of the road, disaster struck Alaphilippe. Van Aert, at the front of the line, edged by the bike, Van der Poel had to swerve to miss it, while Alaphilippe, at the back, hit the motorcyclist with his shoulder, the impact catapulting his bike across the road and sending the Frenchman to the tarmac, where he lay, shouting with pain and anguish.

Despite the loss of the world champion from the front group, Van Aert and Van der Poel continued to pull away from what remained of the peloton behind. They shared the work going up the Oude Kwaremont for the third time and then up the Paterberg for the second, neither man making a concerted attempt to break clear, both happy to depend on their ability in the sprint. Like the rest of the course, this proved there was almost nothing between them, the margin so tight that only the photo finish could decipher it.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 5:43:17
2Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
3Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:08
4Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
5Yves Lampaert (Bel) Elegant-Quickstep
6Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis
7Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
8Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
9John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
10Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team Sunweb
11Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren
12Florian Senechal (Fra) Elegant-Quickstep
13Kasper Asgreen (Den) Elegant-Quickstep
14Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
15Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
16Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling
17Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:16
18Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:02:41
19Nils Politt (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
20Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
21Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling
22Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
23Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
24Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Circus - Wanty Gobert
25Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
26Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
27Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Pro Cycling
28Michael Gogl (Aut) NTT Pro Cycling 0:02:49
29Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:03:05
30Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling 0:04:03
31Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
32Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
33Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb
34Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
35Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
36Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
37Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
38Tim Declercq (Bel) Elegant-Quickstep
39Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
40Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
41Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
42Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
43Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
44Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
45Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
46Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
47Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain McLaren
48Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:04:05
49Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
50Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
51Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
52Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling 0:04:08
53Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
54Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
55Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain McLaren 0:04:16
56Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis 0:04:59
57Dries Devenyns (Bel) Elegant-Quickstep
58Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team Sunweb
59Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
60Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Pro Cycling
61Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
62Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team
63Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis
64Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
65Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:07:26
66Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
67Fabio Van den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
68Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Movistar Team
69Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott 0:08:26
70Petr Vakoč (Cze) Alpecin - Fenix
71Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept 0:09:36
72Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling
73Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Elegant-Quickstep
74Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:10:30
75Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
76Alexander Konychev (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
77Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
78Milan Menten (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
79Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
80Tom Bohli (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
81Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
82Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
83Florian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie
84Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
85Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
86Rasmus Tiller (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling
87Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
88Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Wb
89Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
90Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB
91Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Pro Cycling
92Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Bingoal WB
93Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
94Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
95Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
96Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
97Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
98Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
99Christopher Lawless (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
100Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
101Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
102Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
103Christian Knees (Ger) Ineos Grenadiers
104Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
105Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
106Timo Roosen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
107Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
108Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
109Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team
110Joel Suter (Swi) Bingoal WB
111Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFGilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFNorman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFItamar Einhorn (Isr) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFHugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFDimitri Peyskens (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFMaurits Lammertink (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFAmund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFFred Wright (GBr) Bahrain McLaren
DNFBert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFTravis McCabe (USA) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFThimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFMark Cavendish (GBr) Bahrain McLaren
DNFBryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Cofidis
DNFAttilio Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
DNFLuca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFFrancisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) CCC Team
DNFTaco Van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFDaniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFJake Stewart (GBr) Groupama - Fdj
DNFStan Dewulf (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNFAlberto Dainese (Ita) Team Sunweb
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
DNFCees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFDries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFAlexander Krieger (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFGianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFLeonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFStefan Bissegger (Swi) Ef Pro Cycling
DNFTom Scully (NZl) EF Pro Cycling
DNFChun kai Feng (Tpe) Bahrain McLaren
DNFTim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFRyan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
DNFChristopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFArtyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFKaden Groves (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFJulian Alaphilippe (Fra) Elegant-Quickstep
DNFJuan Diego Alba Bolivar (Col) Movistar Team
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain McLaren
DNFLuis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFSebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFSilvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFFlorian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFSamuele Battistella (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
DNFIñigo Elosegui Momeñe (Spa) Movistar Team
DNSKenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal WB

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1