Pogacar the uncrowned king of the Old Kwaremont, courtesy of Asgreen

It is an image that will compete at the end of the year for ‘Attack of the Season’: Tadej Pogačar’s exploits on the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont in the Tour of Flanders 2022. With a phenomenal acceleration, the Slovenian prodigy picked up everything and everyone up. It turned out to be the starting signal for a long and grueling final. But how punishing that attack was, we’ll never know.

That has everything to do with the fall of the UAE Emirates leader, early in the race. In doing so, he lost his SRM cycling computer, which prevented him from registering and reading GPS, speed, heart rate or power data. “I therefore had to rely on what my team leaders Fabio Baldato and Aart Vierhouten told me through my earpiece. In the end it might have been better to ride without the numbers of my wattages. It made me less stressed. With power meter my course would have been no different. You can’t rely on it here, you just have to go full throttle. It wouldn’t have made the difference between winning or losing,” he said afterwards.

Pogačar indicated that the attack on the Oude Kwaremont had already been planned during the reconnaissance, because of the tailwind. Despite the impressive visuals, losing his power meter will never tell us what the numbers behind that attack were. Yet we can make an indication, because Kasper Asgreen shared his Stravadata does. The Danish winner of the 2021 edition was the only one who could initially follow the Slovenian. He took the KOM yesterday on the deliberate climb of the Oude Kwaremont and took four minutes and six seconds over the segment.

The leading group after the attack on the Oude Kwaremont – photo: Cor Vos

The Oude Kwaremont has never been driven so fast
What the ranking on Strava makes it clear in any case is that the Oude Kwaremont has never been driven so hard. Until yesterday, the record was held by Philippe Gilbert, who achieved the top time in his 2017 edition that won. De Waal then took fifteen seconds slower (four minutes and 21 seconds). The second fastest time was before Sunday in 2016, when Niki Terpstra made a comeback at the Oude Kwaremont in the E3 Harelbeke of that year. After Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, they are no longer even in the top-10 of this segment.

In addition to Asgreen’s new top time, we also see that Ben Turner, Iván García, Valentin Madouas, Victor Campenaerts, Jan Tratnik, Dylan van Baarle, Fred Wright and Tom Pidcock were faster than Gilbert and Terpstra on Sunday. That also applies to Stefan Küng and later winner Van der Poel. They also made an impression, but did so towards the top. If you look back at the images of the entire climb, you will see that the duo is nowhere to be seen at the outposts at the start of Pogačar’s attack. On the spur they also impressively rectify this by popping a large hole.

Below Strava-data is incidentally the part of the Oude Kwaremont where the cobblestones are located, where Pogačar placed his scorching acceleration. He can therefore whistle to the KOM, because he could not load data. But because Asgreen was in his wheel, Pogačar is nevertheless the uncrowned king of the Old Kwaremont. “I love that slope and I think I fell in love with the Tour of Flanders. I will definitely come back here,” he said afterwards. So for how long Asgreen will remain the owner of that KOM (King Of the Mountain) is the question.

Incidentally, the Slovenian has his power meter back. Former cyclist and now photographer León van Bon was the lucky finder.

View the images of (part of) Pogačar’s gear below again