Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) immediately hit the bull’s eye in his first race on Flemish roads. The Dutch all-rounder defeated Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) in Dwars door Vlaanderen in the sprint after a blistering final.
The 76th edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen in a nutshell:
- Winner of the day: Anyone who would still doubt Mathieu van der Poel’s Ronde legs will sing a little lower after today. Van der Poel also raced very wisely in the final and is panting in the neck of that other top favourite, Wout van Aert.
- Pats of the day: Even without the striker duo from his team, Tiesj Benoot was very strong, Victor Campenaerts has realized his stated ambition in no time and Tom Pidcock suddenly takes a big leap forward.
- The day of the debutant: Tadej Pogacar showed several faces. First as a shadow of Van der Poel, then as a missing person, then again as a fighter and finally in 10th place at 2’08”. A victory on Sunday will not come to order.
- loser of the day: Without Kasper Asgreen, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl was driven home without a chance. There is no improvement, on the contrary.
Van der Poel opts for a long and grueling final
Calculated rates? Nothing if your name is Mathieu van der Poel.
At 90 kilometers from the finish he shook the tree for the first time, but not all apples were on the ground.
20 kilometers later on Berg Ten Houte, all the bells started to ring.
Tom Pidcock had his teammate Ben Turner moped, Van der Poel, Tiesj Benoot, Victor Campenaerts and Stefan Küng had done their homework.
Welles staple game with “human” Pogacar
Not Tadej Pogacar: after a few slopes as a shadow of Van der Poel, the Slovenian had missed the battle.
A carelessness? A lack of track knowledge? Or porridge in the legs? Pogacar did not flash, but started to whistle a tune on the Kanarieberg.
The elite group with Van der Poel could almost sing along, but Pogacar actually showed that he is a person of flesh and blood.
After an ordinary chasse patate, he found his second breath again in the company of Greg Van Avermaet, among others, but the lead of the race was no longer within reach.
Final phase to lick your thumbs and fingers
There, Van der Poel and tutti quanti picked up the remnants of the early break, good for a final with eight.
In a blistering castle, Campenaerts fired two razor-sharp arrows, the rest had to go all the way to stay alive.
Benoot was not yet squeezed and placed the key gear shortly before the rag, only Van der Poel still knew which parish he belonged to.
That of the winner, because in the sprint Benoot had no chance after a wonderful game of cat and mouse.
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