FLANDERS’22: Van Der Poel Takes A Crazy Final Sprint!
Strongman Pogačar 4th
De Ronde Race Report: At the finish of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, after a stunning display by Tadej Pogačar, we had the two big riders of the race together. But, it all went wrong for the double Tour winner as Dylan van Baarle and Valentin Madouas came up from behind to finish behind Mathieu van der Poel and head of Pogačar. A big shock of a finishing sprint.
Mathieu van der Poel won the Tour of Flanders for the second time. The Alpecin-Fenix rider was together with fellow favourite Tadej Pogačar in the final, remained ice cool in the sprint and had the fastest jump after more than 270 kilometres. Dylan van Baarle was second and Valentin Madouas was third with a late chase to the two leaders. Pogačar missed the podium after a spectacular last kilometre.
The Paterberg wasn’t looking so good on Friday
The 2022 Ronde van Vlaanderen starts in the Grote Markt in Antwerp. There are a few changes this year, the final remains the same. The Katteberg and the Eikenberg are missing and the Achterberg has been added. This climb in Leupegem is 1,500 metres long, with an average of 4.4% and up to 14%. This Achterberg is the third slope of the day, between the Kortekeer and the Wolvenberg. After the start in Antwerp, there is a long flat run of about a hundred kilometres. The cobblestones of the Lippenhovestraat signal the start of the final, followed almost immediately by the cobbles of the Paddestraat towards the first passage of the Oude Kwaremont.
Within a radius of 35 kilometres follow the Kortekeer, the Achterberg (instead of the Eikenberg), the cobblestones of the Holleweg, the Wolvenberg, the cobblestones of the Karel Martelstraat and Jagerij, the ascent of the Molenberg, Marlboroughstraat, the Berendries and up to the Valkenberg. After the top of the Valkenberg there are 88 kilometres to the finish.
Berg Ten Houte and the Kanarieberg are the next slopes before the second time of the Oude Kwaremont and then the Paterberg. The Koppenberg is not far off with a maximum gradient of 22%. The last flat cobblestone section of the day follows with the 2,400 meter long Mariaborrestraat, followed by the Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg, then on to the Kruisberg, ten kilometres before the last passage of the Oude Kwaremont. After that, only the Paterberg remains. From the summit of the Paterberg, the riders turn left and start the final flat 13 kilometres to Oudenaarde.
The start in Antwerp
There was a long neutralised section
Without top favourite Wout van Aert, due to covid, the race had last year’s winner Kasper Asgreen, the new top favourite Mathieu van der Poel, Tour winner Tadej Pogačar, Tom Pidcock, Tiesj Benoot and Mads Pedersen to fight it out. After the first neutralised kilometres, the race started in the suburbs of Antwerp and the battle for the early break broke out. Several skirmishes took place in the first hour, but a good break had to be waited for. After more than 20 kilometres, nine riders managed to get together. DSM and EF Education-EasyPost tried to chase for a while, but it was a wasted effort and the peloton let them go.
Flanders misses Wout Van Aert
Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën), Sébastien Grignard (Lotto Soudal), Lindsay De Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-G0bert), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Max Kanter (Movistar), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan) and Tom Bohli (Cofidis) made up the break that took 5 minutes on the peloton.
The ‘Break of the Day’
In the big peloton the chase work was done mostly by Alpecin-Fenix, Jumbo-Visma, INEOS Grenadiers and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. UAE Team Emirates were also involved in the pursuit, but they had the problem of a crash by leader Pogačar. The Slovenian hit the road early in the race, but he was soon back in the peloton. The nine front riders rode at a steady pace to the foot of the first climb of the day after more than 130 kilometres: the Oude Kwaremont.
The usual workers on the front of the peloton: Julien Vermote (Alpecin-Fenix) and Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)
There were thousands of fans on the Oude Kwaremont, but the pace stayed the same for the break and the bunch, it was still far too far to the finish. The Oude Kwaremont started a series of climbs, with the Kortekeer, Achterberg and Wolvenberg within 10 kilometres. The nervousness in the peloton increased and there were a few crashes, including Piet Allegaert and Tobias Johannessen, but nothing serious.
The fans were happy to be back on the roadside
On the Molenberg, the fifth climb of the day, Jumbo-Visma put the pressure on for the first time. It was Nathan van Hooydonck who threw down the gauntlet and the managed to cross to the previously escaped Jonas Koch of BORA-hansgrohe. In the peloton there were several dropped riders due the high pace. Alexander Kristoff, winner of ‘Vlaanderens Mooiste’ in 2015 and the leader of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, had to deal with a mechanical problem, but was able to rejoin thanks to a teammate.
The break on the Kwaremont
Van Hooydonck and Koch worked well together and managed to extend their lead towards the foot of the Berendries to 300 seconds. On the Berendries, the race exploded. Several riders jumped out of the peloton after Van Hooydonck and Koch. Iván García instigated a counter-attack and the Movistar rider was joined by ex-winner Alberto Bettiol, fellow favourite Mads Pedersen, Alex Kirsch, Zdeněk Štybar, Jannik Steimle, Gianni Vermeersch, Mick van Dijke, Oliver Le Gac, Marco Haller and Ben Turner.
Quick-Step’s man for the day – Kasper Asgreen
This was a very strong group and so alarm bells went off in the peloton. TotalEnergies, Bahrain Victorious and UAE Team Emirates led the pursuit. There was a crash in the peloton. Christophe Laporte and Florian Vermeersch, among others, went down. The French favourite of Jumbo-Visma had a hard job to catch-up as the peloton was full on. The break of the day started climb number nine: Berg Ten Houte.
De Ronde – Classic
The peloton was still quite big
On the Berg Ten Houte, Victor Campenaerts, Van der Poel, Pogačar and Asgreen tried to make the jump to the group with Bettiol and Pedersen, but they didn’t succeed and this played into the hands of the counter-attackers. The lead increased again and the top favourites behind were not prepared to chase for someone else, as a result the difference going to the second pass of the Oude Kwaremont increased to 1:30. An interesting race developed, but with 60 kilometres to go, it was by no means decisive.
EF were looking interested
Trentin followed by Campenaerts
There was an organised chase in the peloton again. Just before the Oude Kwaremont, the differences between the groups were small. This was the moment for Pogačar to show his power and with Asgreen in his wheel, he rode to the head of the race. Van der Poel didn’t look so sharp on the Oude Kwaremont, but managed to close the gaps at his own pace, as did Pidcock, Stefan Küng and others.
Two top men – Asgreen and Van der Poel
Trek had control, but not for long
Due to the efforts of Pogačar, the early break were caught and there was now an elite group of about 30 riders. This group was quickly thinned out the first time on the Paterberg. A strong Jan Tratnik and Van der Poel put on the pressure and this ensured a natural selection. Pogačar went with them, but Asgreen had mechanical problems on the Paterberg and lost his top place.
A stunning effort by Pogačar closed the race up
In the kilometres between the Paterberg and the Koppenberg, peace returned to the group of favourites. Dylan van Baarle then jumped away and took a gap of about 20 seconds from the first group and was joined by Fred Wright. Van Baarle and Wright had a good lead by the Koppenberg, but all eyes were on Pogačar. The Slovenian forcing the pace again on the Koppenberg, but this time Van der Poel was right on his wheel. The Dutchman even came to the front drive the split with Pogačar and the surprising Valentin Madouas.
Last man of the break – Taco Van Der Hoorn (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux)
These three did not look back and eventually crossed to Van Baarle and Wright, and a new leading group of five was born. In the chasing group it soon became clear that the strongest riders had gone on the Koppenberg. With a lead of 45 seconds, Van der Poel, Pogačar, Madouas, Van Baarle and Wright started the third and last climb of the Oude Kwaremont. On the penultimate slope of this Tour of Flanders, Pogačar was the strongest again.
Dylan Van Baarle got away with Fred Wright
Pidcock missed the important move
This turned out to be the death of Van Baarle and Wright. The tough Madouas tried to hold on, but the Frenchman couldn’t hang on. We now had two possible winners with Pogačar and Van der Poel. They started the Paterberg together, the last climb of the day. On this steep cobbled slope there was no explosion and so the two rode on to the finish in Oudenaarde. The pursuers seemed beaten. Just like in 2020 and 2021, we would have a sprint of two for the win.
Fred Wright was in the action, first with Van Baarle and then with the favourites break
The strongmen of the race – Van der Poel and Pogačar
Van der Poel and Pogačar rode well together in the last kilometres. They pulled well at the front towards the Minderbroedersstraat in Oudenaarde. In the last kilometre the big poker game started and we were waiting to see who would jump first; Van der Poel or Pogačar. It didn’t happen for a long time and as a result, Madouas and Van Baarle were able to join in the sprint at the last minute. Madouas felt his moment had come and came back at high speed, but was unable to surprise Van der Poel. The Dutchman matched Madouas and sprinted convincingly to his second victory in the Tour of Flanders.
Pogačar split the break and took Van der Poel with him
Laporte tried to cross, but failed
Van Baarle finished second in the very tactical final, Madouas was third. Pogačar was the big loser at the finish. The Slovenian was closed in in the hectic sprint and finished off the podium. And the two-time Tour winner was clearly not happy.
Pogačar tried to get rid of Van der Poel
The exciting finishing sprint went to Van der Poel
Van der Poel took the crazy finish
Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “Suddenly they came back very quickly. Then I started my sprint myself. But I was a bit surprised, because I was really only working with Tadej and no longer with those two others (Van Baarle and Madouas). Suddenly they came back with a lot of speed. I had to start sprinting. It was mainly on the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg where Tadej rode up very quickly. On the Pater I was even on the point of being dropped. After that I really had to recover. I was really on the verge of letting go. But I knew I had to get over that. Then you always have a bit to get to the finish, but it still hurt a lot. I’ve had that situation for three years in a row, so I knew roughly what I had to do. I picked myself up again and did everything I could to win. I worked so hard for this match. For a long time it was uncertain whether I would even make it to the classics. If you can also win the Tour of Flanders after Dwars Door Vlaanderen, it’s incredible that you succeeded! It is certainly a pity that Pogačar does not go on the podium. Perhaps he was the strongest in today’s race. He has been very aggressive. I would have awarded him the podium, even the victory if he had beaten me. Perhaps the advantage of having to sprint here a few times was that I was able to win. Working towards Paris-Roubaix now? Gosh, I’m going to enjoy this one first. There are a lot of people who helped me win here, so I’m going to celebrate this win with them first.”
The 2022 Flanders podium – No Pogačar
Tour of Flanders Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix in 6:18:30
2. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers
3. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
5. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ at 0:02
6. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Victorious
7. Fred Wright (GB) Bahrain-Victorious at 0:11
8. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 0:48
9. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Jumbo-Visma
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
11. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
12. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
13. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 1:02
14. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:05
15. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 1:07
16. Danny van Poppel (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe
17. Matis Louvel (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
18. John Degenkolb (Ger) DSM
19. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
20. Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Movistar
21. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
22. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar
23. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
24. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
25. Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels-KTM.