It’s as if today’s first part of the world peloton may be the culmination of the first part of the 2022 cycling season. 273 km long, already the 106th year of the Ronde van Vlaanderen race is a great ancient drama. Even his decision made fans tense up until the end. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin Fenix) was the first to solve the imaginary band.
In the end, the second most famous cyclist of the day, two-time Tour de France winner, Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia (home UAE), failed miserably. He didn’t even have a podium left, but he was the one who “done” the whole race.
Mathieu van der Poel, on the other hand, stands in “Flanders” for the fourth time in a row in the top four. The second time is the first, once the second, once the fourth. His appearance after the failed winter and spring preparations caused by severe back pain was a big question mark until the very last moment. But one of the best classics of all time shows great strength, strong nerves and at 27 even high tactical maturity.
It’s amazing, I’ve worked really hard for this win.
It was almost a rocket counterattack. On March 19, “MVPD” entered the big race for the first time this year and finished third in Milan – the classic San Remo. On March 25, he won the fourth stage of the short Italian stage Coppi and Bartali. Four days ago, he tested his form in Flemish General Dwars Door Vlaanderen (Across Flanders). He won it.
And Tadej Poganar? Everyone is waiting to see what the 23 year old Slovenian universal will do. Before the race, he said that his main goal was to try to ride well in the cat-headed section, so that he would be better prepared for next year’s Tour de France. But few believed he would stand the test.
Also that it didn’t stay. Even though the young Slovenian fell right after the start, he then rode for a long time like a real fat man. Never too far back, never too far forward. 57 kilometers before the finish, one of the dreaded “Hellingen” hills, the penultimate Oude Kwaremont, arrived. Pogachar strikes, literally flying past his opponents on the ascent. He indicated that he would be a hot favorite.
On the final exit to Oude Kwaremont, only two big rivals – Slovenia and the Netherlands – have stepped on the hilltop. Far behind them, they were chased in vain by Dylan van Baarle (Ineos) from Belgium and Valentin Madouas (FDJ) from France.
It looked like a repeat of the tactical finish from last year, when the Netherlands surprisingly succumbed to Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen. About 400 meters before the finish, the two great rivals almost stopped. They waited tactically for the first to strike. They wait very long, you can reduce the tension. A pair of van Baarle and Madouas dashed toward them from behind. Two but four are not fighting for supremacy at once. Van der Poel fired at the last moment, stepped on the pedal and clearly won. Pogachar, on the other hand, remained closed between the pursuers and no podium remained. His gesture of helplessness was very eloquent.
What a symbolic emotion in the goal. The Dutch are waiting for a hug with a charming Belgian friend Roxanne Bertels, a marketing expert at Porsche. At least a bit of a Belgian win. Pogachar followed them for a long time. Not at his opponent, but to himself, how such a giant favorite got stuck in the finish.
“Infuriatingly humble coffee guru. Travel practitioner. Freelance zombie fanatic. Certified problem solver. Food scholar. Student.”