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FLANDERS’24 Breakdown: A Perfect Day for Alpecin-Deceuninck

How was De Ronde won?

Race Breakdown: Mathieu van der Poel may have been the top favourite for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders and biggest competitor, Wout van Aert was missing due to his Dwars Door Vlaanderen injuries, but winning a Monument is never easy. Mathieu van der Poel won his third Tour of Flanders, setting a speed record after a 45 kilometre solo from the Koppenberg to Oudenaarde, but the Alpecin-Deceuninck team set the day up perfectly.

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Flanders 2024
De Ronde No.3 for Van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel had the rainbow jersey on his back and had the No.1 pinned to it, the last time that happened it was Eddy Merckx in 1975 and no one could hold the wheel of the cannibal. Frans Verbeeck tried, but he was burnt off by an infernal pace. On Sunday it was Matteo Jorgenson who was the last man to try to hold Van der Poel, but it was too much for the young American. You have to think that a fit Wout van Aert or an uninjured Mads Pedersen might have been able to combat the Dutch World champion or combined to chase him down… but we will never know.

Merckx
Eddy Merckx – World champion No.1

Just because Visma | Lease a Bike didn’t have Van Aert and Lidl-Trek didn’t have Jasper Stuyven and Pedersen was suffering from the same crash, this made it harder for Alpecin-Deceuninck to control the race. Everyone was now looking at them and the battle lines were drawn before the start.

Flanders 2024
The men in blue controlled nearly everything

Alpecin-Deceuninck looked to have a plan from the gun and it worked perfectly. They let a break go early and then kept it close enough not to cause an upset Then in the hilly section from the Wolvenberg to the second passage of the Oude Kwaremont they let the race rage without Van der Poel breaking sweat. But their ‘Ace Card’ had to be sending Gianni Vermeersch to ride with Mads Pedersen on the Valkenberg. Vermeersch worked with Pedersen which encouraged the Dane to use his energies and at the same time the other teams must have been asking if Van der Poel was on a dad day. But this put Van der Poel in the perfect position for his winning move on the koppenberg.

Flanders 2024
The Vermeersch tactic worked perfectly

It’s not long since the Belgian team was racing at Pro-Conti level, now they rule over the ‘Super Teams’ with their big budgets. The team had the good sense to leave Milano-Sanremo winner Jasper Philipsen at home for the Tour of Flanders, without the other controlling teams, they knew the race wouldn’t finish in a bunch sprint. The team maybe put all their easter eggs in one basket, but now there would only be one job to do and that was to get the World champion placed for his winning move.

Flanders 24

On the Oude Kwaremont, with 55 kilometre to go, it looked like Van der Poel was making his move, but it was too soon, then on the Koppenberg he was gone. Behind him there was chaos, but that didn’t make any difference, no one could follow even if they didn’t have to walk.

Flanders 2024
Pedersen survived in a scene from the past

Only three riders stayed on their bikes up the Koppenberg: Van der Poel, Jorgenson and Pedersen, but that didn’t matter, Van der Poel had gone and the win was his.

Flanders 2024

Even without some of the main protagonists, this was still a ‘Classic’ Flanders and it went to a deserving winner and winning team. The riders make the race, but the race also shapes the excitement.

Flanders 2024

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