Two giants in Flanders, Van der Poel triumphs

by Angelo Costa

Extraordinary Flanders: two giants are at stake, as in an ideal place for cycling. Extraordinary Mathieu Van der Poel: returned as a protagonist in Sanremo after almost six months off for back problems, he does an encore in the Flemish classic, won two years ago and where in four appearances he is not never dropped below fourth place. Pogacar is also extraordinary, who as a rookie on the cobblestones draws the race by cooking the legs of his opponents on the last five walls, then losing it to the best of his rivals, the only one able to resist him until the end , and also remains at the bottom of the podium, to confirm that cycling in addition to being beautiful can also be cruel.

More memorable than others will remain this Flanders of Van der Poel, which until a few weeks ago was not even sure of racing it, let alone winning it. He deserves it with more lucid racing driving than other times, resisting Pogacar on hitches without looking for other adventures to save energy, and conquers it with a sprint as a cross racer, sprinting in the last two hundred meters almost at a standstill, a stagnation which allows Van Baarle and Madouas to come back and blow the podium to the Slovenian child. “With what I have been through, it all seems incredible to me: very hard race, Pogacar was perhaps the best and he took me to the limit, fortunately in the last kilometers I was able to rest a little the legs'” tells Vdp after the long hug with his girlfriend Roxanne at the finish line. It felt like another day in Pogacar, like all those where the phenomenon discovers a new classic, and instead it is the triumph of Van der Poel, 27, son of Adri, who is on the Flanders honor roll since the 1980s, and grandson of Polidour to whom last year, before beginning the ordeal with the fall at the Games, he dedicated the joy of the yellow jersey to the Tour. A true champion, forged by the cross where he has won four world titles among the elites, confirmed then on the road, where he has an Amstel, also like his father, and a Strade Bianche, as well as various classifications in the great classics, practically always closed in the top ten.

Nice background, to which Vdp, although already suffering, added third place in the Roubaix of Colbrelli, before devoting himself to the winter: he would have liked to indulge in the beloved cross, but his back advised him to s stop and only start pedaling again when the pain is gone. Path that allowed him to reappear in full form in Sanremo, closed on the podium, win a few races and face Flanders without hiding (“Punto al bis”), as the phenomena do, the only ones capable of beating those of their race. Order of arrival

106th Tour of Flanders: 1) Mathieu Van der Poel (Ola, Alpecin) km 273 in 6h 18’30” (average 43.197), 2) Van Baarle (Ola), 3) Madouas (Fra), 4) Pogacar (Slo ), 5) Kung (Svi) at 2”, 6) Teuns (Bel) st, 7) Wright (Gbr) at 11”, 8) Pedersen (Dan) at 48”, 25) Severed at 1’07 ”.

Flanders women to the Belgian Lotte Kopecky on the Dutchman Van Vleuten, Bastianelli tenth.

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