A day after arguments erupted across social media on whether Jonas Vingegaard should have been declared winner of the Velo d’Or prize ahead of Mathieu van der Poel or Tadej Pogačar, Van der Poel was named International Flandrien in the Het Nieuwsblad awards on Wednesday.
Pogačar won two Monuments: Tour of Flanders and Il Lombardia, was second in the Tour de France and finished the season as the UCI #1 ranked rider. Vingegaard won the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné and Itzulia Basque Country and was second to teammate Sepp Kuss at the Vuelta a España.
Van der Poel’s father Adrie van der Poel was on stage to receive the trophy from fellow former stars Jan Janssen, Hennie Kuiper and Joop Zoetemelk, three of the four living former world champions.
Van der Poel accepted his award via video message while clad in his rainbow jersey, saying, “It was an unforgettable season for me with victories in Milan-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, the beautiful world title on the road in Glasgow and also the cyclocross title in Hoogerheide, which started the year.
“It is a great honour to win the International Flandrien and perhaps an even greater honour that there are three great Dutch former riders in Ostend to present it. I wish everyone a nice evening.”
Adrie van der Poel thought Tadej Pogačar deserved the Velo d’Or, and was again on hand to give his input, this time on his son’s success and coming year.
“Last year was fantastic for him,” Adrie Van der Poel said. “I immediately told him after the Road World Championships: the most difficult year is now coming. I think he has taken that into account and wants to start the road season in the best possible way.”
Pogačar, still in Japan after winning the Saitama Criterium, also addressed the gala via video message.
“I’m really sad that I cannot come to the International Flandrien Awards because I will be still in Tokyo,” he said.
“I really want to congratulate my friend Mathieu for this nice award. It was a really close battle between me and him but he won two monuments and World Championships and many other things. So, he really deserves and I want to congratulate him.”