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Mathieu van der Poel dominates slippery Ronde van Vlaanderen

Mathieu van der Poel dominates slippery Ronde van Vlaanderen

Mathieu van der Poel soloed to his third Ronde van Vlaanderen title on Sunday, attacking past a floundering Ivan Garcia Cortina on the Koppenberg 45 km from the finish. With a hat trick, the Dutchman joins Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and four others in a tie for most Tour of Flanders victories. Slippery conditions made for a chaotic day; both Canadian entrants crashed and Guillaume Boivin had to abandon.

The world champion attacks on the Koppenberg.

After the finish van der Poel said, “I cannot think about Roubaix yet. I’m really really f****d at the moment. That’s one of the hardest races I’ve ever done.”

The Course

Awaiting the riders were seventeen climbs, most of them cobbled, in the latter half of 270 km. The formidable cobbled duo of Oude Kwaremont–Paterberg would be tackled twice and comprised the day’s final ascents. The Koppenberg, Taaienberg and Oude Kruisberg/Hotond were possible ambush points as well. The last Paterberg peaked 15 km from the finish line on the Minderbroedersstraat in Oudenaarde. It was rather slick out there.

The Lineups

Hugo Houle and Guillaume Boivin were back in action for Israel-Premier Tech. Last year’s champion Tadej Pogacar was off training, the other podium men van der Poel and Mads Pedersen were the favorites, and the 2023 fourth place Wout van Aert was injured at Dwars door Vlaanderen.

An octet of fugitives got loose early, stopping after 68 km to let a train pass. With 128 km to go, Boivin and a few others crashed and the Canadian had to abandon the race. The attacks in the peloton increased between Wolvenberg and Molenberg. Pedersen, van der Poel and Matteo Jorgenson all made thrusts that were parried. With 90 km to go it was Houle’s turn to crash.

After Valkenberg, Pedersen attacked again and Gianni Vermeersch of Soudal-Quick Step joined in. Alpecin-Deceuninck chased.

By the first Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg coupling, the Dane and Belgian had 23 seconds on the peloton. Oier Lazcano and van der Poel caught them on Kwaremont.

Van der Poel leads the way on the second ascent of Oude Kwaremont with 56 km to go.

Paterberg I was where Lazcano’s teammate Ivan Garcia Cortina skipped away. Cobbled…

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