Mathieu van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders for 2nd time

106th Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres 2022 - Men's Elite
Getty Images
6 Comments

OUDENAARDE, Belgium – Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel came out of a four-man sprint to win the Tour of Flanders cobbled classic for the second time.

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar blew his chances in the race’s finale.

Van der Poel and Pogacar escaped from the group of remaining contenders and rode together for the last 15 kilometers after the Slovenian rider launched a sharp attack in the Oude Kwaremont climb.

Van der Poel was the only one able to follow and the 273-kilometer one-day classic looked set for a two-man sprint.

But the leading duo played a cat and mouse game in the final kilometer as Pogacar waited for an opening that never came, and they were ultimately caught by chasers with some 250 meters left.

Van der Poel then launched his effort and used his greater power to prevail.

Pogacar was boxed behind Frenchman Valentin Madouas and Dutchman Dylan van Baarle in the sprint. He gestured in frustration as he crossed the line in fourth place.

Van Baarle was runner-up ahead of Madouas.

Wout van Aert of Belgium did not compete after testing positive for COVID-19. But Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky gave the local fans something to cheer about by winning the women’s race ahead of former world champion Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands.

Another Dutch rider, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak – a teammate of Kopecky – completed the podium.

A versatile rider, Van der Poel has won titles in many disciplines and wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for six days last year. He is the grandson of the late French rider Raymond Poulidor. Van der Poel won his first Tour of Flanders in 2020.

“It’s incredible, especially, I know where I came from,” said Van der Poel, who recovered from a back injury that forced him to cut short his cyclo-cross season. “It’s a pity for Tadej that he is not on the podium today because he deserved it, he did an amazing ride.”

The Tour of Flanders is one of the “monuments” of cycling – the five most prestigious one-day events in the sport – along with Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia.

First held in 1913, the race is also known as De Ronde. It features multiple short but punishing climbs and is one of the two classics with cobblestone sections along with Paris-Roubaix.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

4 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

5 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”