The pair were the strongest riders in the race and dropped their remaining opponents on the final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont before setting up a sprint finish.
Asgreen was expected to attack in the closing stages, with Van der Poel the favourite for the sprint, but even though the Dutch rider started a long sprint he was forced to sit up with 50m to go as Asgreen took the biggest win of his career.
Greg van Avermaet won the sprint for third.
"I felt good in the last kilometres still so I decided to try and trust my sprint. Going into the last kilometre I got Mathieu on the front and I heard we still had more than 30 seconds so I decided to stay in the wheel, so I could decide when to go. It was a really hard race. We were both on the limit. It was a question of the margins at the end," said Asgreen.
"It was the plan to start to jumping after second time Kwaremont and we did. We rode a perfect race all day. The guys were incredible - a huge thanks to them. A huge thanks to Tom [Steels] and Wilfried [Peeters] in the car. They prepared this race so well and we know every single metre of the course. It's just an incredible team to be a part of."
Van der Poel and Asgreen went clear with 27km to go in the race when the Dane attacked at the top of the Kruisberg. They were joined by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) with the trio establishing a 20-second lead over a group that contained Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Marco Haller (Bahrain Victorious) and Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie).
The three leaders went into the penultimate climb of the Oude Kwaremont with their advantage intact but, as the road rose up, Van der Poel stamped on the pedals. Van Aert was immediately dropped, while Asgreen had to close the gap on the short descent. The pair climbed the final climb of the Paterberg side by side, while Van Aert was eventually caught by the chase group 10km from the finish.
In the run-in to the line, Asgreen and Van der Poel traded turns while the chase group fractured several times as riders attacked each other.
Van Avermaet and Jasper Stuyven jumped clear in the final stages with the Olympic road champion taking his fourth podium place but it was Asgreen who claimed the spoils and became Denmark’s first Flanders winner since Rolf Sorensen in 1997.
The Elegant-QuickStep rider was in every major move in the race and attacked several times alongside Van der Poel before a major break of six formed on the Taaienberg. Julian Alaphilippe attacked from that move on the Kruisberg and neatly set up Asgreen, who was quickly joined by Van Aert and Van der Poel. Despite going up against last year’s top two finishers the Dane kept his cool and claimed a memorable victory.
How it unfolded
The early break formed after just a handful of kilometers with a group of five merging with another two riders to create a move that included Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar), Jelle Wallays (Cofidis), Fabio Van Den Bossche (Sport Vlaanderen Baloise), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal WB), Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech), and Nico Denz (Team DSM). The leading seven established a healthy advantage almost immediately but there was an altercation back in the peloton as tempers flared.
Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Premier Tech) launched a tentative attack with 240km to go but the Astana rider was quickly marked by Otto Vergaerde (Alpecin Fenix). Fedorov had no patience for being followed and jumped on his brakes with the Alpecin rider glued to his wheel. Vergaerde’s reaction was to ride alongside Fedorov and shoulder barge him, and while neither rider came down in the incident, the UCI officials took swift action and expelled both riders from the race.
The breakaway, unaware of the ruckus that took place behind them, quickly built up a sizeable lead with the seven out front establishing an 11-minute lead by the time they took on the Kwaremont for the first time with around 140km to go.
Back in the bunch, UAE Team Emirates began to set the pace ahead of the first major climb before Jumbo-Visma and Bahrain Victorious took control on the Kortekeer with the gap to the break rapidly dropping below nine minutes.
On the Eikenberg the gap was down to eight minutes with several riders including Nils Politt, Marco Haller, Michael Schar and Marcus Burghardt all experiencing mechanicals in quick succession while Tim Declercq moved to the front as he and his teammates began to take control over the top of the climb.
The Elegant-QuickStep team put the hammer down on the Molenberg with 101km to go but on the Berendries it was Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ) who stormed clear and was quickly joined by Davide Ballerini (Elegant-QuickStep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Total Direct Energie), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Nathan van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team DSM), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels), Boy van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) and Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën). This prompted a reaction from the peloton and within just a few kilometres the counter-attack was brought back.
Heading into the final 80km the breakaway held an advantage of 3:10 over the peloton. Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) skipped clear on the Kanarieberg but Bora-Hansgrohe and Jumbo-Visma marked the move. With 66km to go a crash took down or held up Oliver Naesen, Michael Matthews, Alexander Kristoff, Kasper Asgreen and Julian Alaphilippe, with the incident causing a huge split in the field. Alpecin-Fenix lost two riders in the crash but there was a general regrouping before a frantic sprint into the base of the Oude Kwaremont. The pace and panic caused another fall just before the climb with Owain Doull and Nieuwenhuis among the fallers with the latter forced to abandon.
Heading onto the climb, the breakaway held a gap of 1:36 with Bissegger kicking clear of his fading companions. Stefen Küng took a fall on the Oude Kwaremont itself after colliding with another rider but the rest of the main contenders held firm before Elegant-QuickStep accelerated with Yves Lampaert. The move was marked by Tim Wellens and Alaphilippe but at the crest of the Kwaremont, Van der Poel caught the move and then accelerated with only Asgreen able to keep pace with 54km to go. It was Van Aert who closed the gap singlehandedly on the descent with a group of fewer than 25 riders still in contention.
Asgreen accelerated once gain on the Paterberg and once more only Van der Poel could follow with Van Aert once more forced to bring his two rivals back. Just as the move was caught Wellens and Tom Pidcock accelerated with Haller, Senechal and Turgis making a powerful group of four before Alaphilippe and Laporte joined forces with those riders and the remnants of the early break, minus Bissegger, who had 46 seconds with 46km to go.
Onto the Koppenberg and Alaphilippe set the pace for the second group, well aware that he had Van Aert and Van der Poel on the back foot. At the top of the ascent, the world champion had made contact with Bissegger, while pockets of riders were split all over the road. Van der Poel brought a group of riders across that included Pidcock, Van Aert, Haller, Laporte, Turgis, and Wellens. Caught behind and in a fourth group back were Kristoff, and Peter Sagan.
Haller accelerated on the Steenbeekdries while the Alaphilippe group was caught by a group that included Trentin, Van Avermaet, and Asgreen. Haller started the Taaienberg with 17 seconds of a lead but once more Asgreen and Van der Poel accelerated. This time Van Aert was onto them instantly, with Alaphilippe making the juncture with 37km to go and Haller swallowed up to make a break of five. Dylan Teuns added to Bahrain’s firepower on the descent with Jasper Stuyven, Pidcock and Van Avermaet forced to chase.
The six leaders - Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Van der Poel, Asgreen, Haller and Teuns - hit the Kruisberg with just a 12-second lead but the world champion set a relentless pace before attacking at the top. Van Aert was quick to respond as Haller began to struggle and Turgis bridged across to make it seven at the front with 28km to go and the gap holding at 15 seconds. Trentin suffered a rear wheel puncture that effectively ended his challenge.
Turgis and Haller accelerated but it was Asgreen's powerful counter-attack that pulled Van Aert and Van der Poel away with 27km to go, leaving Bahrain and Turgis to chase while Alaphilippe sat on.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep||6:02:12|
|2||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|3||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team||0:00:32|
|4||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:33|
|5||Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation||0:00:47|
|6||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma|
|7||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|8||Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|9||Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|10||Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers|
|11||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis|
|12||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM||0:00:49|
|13||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:02:15|
|14||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|15||Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|16||Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|17||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|18||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|19||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|20||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious|
|21||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|22||Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|23||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team|
|24||Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|25||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|26||Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|27||Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|28||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo|
|29||Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|30||John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|31||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|32||Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie|
|33||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|34||Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|35||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious|
|36||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:02:20|
|37||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|38||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|39||Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|40||Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious||0:02:24|
|41||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:02:35|
|42||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|43||Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:02:52|
|44||Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||0:03:19|
|45||Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team|
|46||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|47||Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:04:00|
|48||Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|49||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|50||Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|51||Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|52||Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ|
|53||Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|54||Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|55||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|56||Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|57||Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:09:00|
|58||Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM|
|59||Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo|
|60||Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|61||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis|
|62||Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma|
|63||Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM|
|64||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates|
|65||Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|66||Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team|
|67||Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team|
|68||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis|
|69||Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB|
|70||Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech|
|71||Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal WB|
|72||Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers|
|73||Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|74||Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|75||Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|76||Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|77||Matis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|78||Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team|
|79||Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech|
|80||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|81||Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|82||Jack Bauer (NZl) Team BikeExchange|
|83||Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team|
|84||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie|
|85||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|86||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie|
|87||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|88||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|89||Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo|
|90||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|91||Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech||0:13:00|
|92||Maarten Wynants (Bel) Jumbo-Visma|
|93||David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|94||Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|95||Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|96||Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|97||Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|98||Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation|
|99||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain Victorious|
|100||Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ|
|101||Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|102||Frederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|103||Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|104||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|105||Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|106||Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|107||Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|108||Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|109||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-Nippo|
|110||Fabio Van Den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|111||André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis|
|112||Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious|
|113||Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Ruben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma|
|DNF||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange|
|DNF||Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange|
|DNF||Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Emil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Jonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis|
|DNF||Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Cofidis|
|DNF||Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Alex Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|DNF||Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis|
|DNF||Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM|
|DNF||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM|
|DNF||Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo|
|DSQ||Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DSQ||Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DSQ||Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
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