April 3, 2022
Tour of Flanders 2022 – Antwerp – Oudenaarde : 272,5 km
For one Sunday in April the little roads around the sleepy towns of Flanders wake up to see one of the biggest races of the year thunder over them.
April 3, 2022
Tour of Flanders 2022 – Antwerp – Oudenaarde : 272,5 km
For one Sunday in April the little roads around the sleepy towns of Flanders wake up to see one of the biggest races of the year thunder over them. Fans turn out in their thousands to line these roads, flags flying in one hand and beers sloshing in the other as they cheer on their favourites. This race is the Tour of Flanders, or as it’s known in the native tongue, ‘De Ronde’, and it marks the grand finale of a series of Flandrian Classics that fall in the weeks before. This race represents bike racing in its purest and simplest form: one day, one chance, one winner. With its inaugural edition debuting back in 1913, the Tour of Flanders is actually the youngest of the five monuments. This doesn’t make it any less historic or respected than the others however, in fact many regard the Tour of Flanders as one of the biggest bike races on the calendar and up there with the likes of Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France and the World Championships in terms of racing prestige.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) won the Tour of Flanders in a finale for the ages after the Dutchman went on the attack with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) after a high-speed, selective race.
It was just Van der Poel’s eighth day of racing after an off-season back injury and gradual return to riding disrupted his spring. Yet when Pogačar attacked on the final climb of the Oude Kwaremont, he managed to hold onto his wheel.
The two built a solid enough lead that it should have been a two-man sprint for the victory. However, Pogačar played cat and mouse far too much and a 30-second gap on chasers evaporated.
That allowed Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) to latch back on in the final hundred metres and contest the sprint.
When Van der Poel started the sprint, Pogačar was shut out and could only finish fourth behind Van Baarle and Madouas. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) was the first chaser home at two seconds.
Van der Poel only began his season at Milan-San Remo two weeks ago, racing to third place. To win his second Tour of Flanders, he said, was incredible.
“I worked so hard for this one. At first, it wasn’t even sure if I would get to the Classics and to win is incredible.”
“They were coming really fast from behind, so I decided to sprint from far out. It was amazing that [Pogačar] was busy with me and not with the others coming back. It was a bit of a shock to see it play out like that.”
Van der Poel admitted he suffered as he tried to stay with Pogačar earlier in the day, however.
“He went up Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg really fast. I was almost at the point of dropping. At the end, it was a scenario I’ve had three times before, so I knew it already. I was only taking Tadej into account.
“I just tried to recover a little bit every time I was in the wheel, but I was just hurting a lot. I’ve worked extremely hard for it and I just went 100 per cent. I’m really happy it has worked out.”
How it unfolded
After two years of coronavirus restrictions, the crowds returned to the Tour of Flanders, and not even the absence of home favourite Wout van Aert could dampen the general enthusiasm at the start in Antwerp’s Grote Markt.
After snow fell over Flanders earlier the week, the peloton was flagged away beneath clear blue skies, though the temperature was still scarcely above freezing at the start.
That doubtless encouraged a rapid opening phase, with the early break forging clear just outside Antwerp and covering some 47.8km in the first hour. The nine escapees were Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Sebastien Grignard (Lotto Soudal), Lindsay De Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB), Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Tom Bohli (Cofidis) and Max Kanter (Movistar). They built a maximum advantage of over four minutes after 100km.
Behind, debutant Tadej Pogačar was caught up in a low-speed crash, but he quickly remounted and his UAE Team Emirates squad helped to contribute to the pace-making at the head of the bunch alongside Jumbo-Visma, Alpecin-Fenix and QuickStep-AlphaVinyl, who deployed Tim Declercq in his familiar role.
The break hit the first ascent of the Oude Kwaremont – the first of the day’s 18 hellingen – with 140km remaining and 4:30 in hand over the peloton, and their advantage began to contract thereafter.
With each passing climb, the tension in the bunch ratcheted a little further, with UAE Team Emirates and Trek-Segafredo prominent in front. The opening gambit from the favourites’ teams, however, came from Jumbo-Visma, when Nathan Van Hooydonck accelerated on the Molenberg in the company of Jonas Koch (Bora-Hansgrohe).
That counter-attack grew significantly in danger when it swelled to 13 riders as Ivan Garcia Cortina punched clear on the Berendries, bringing Ben Turner (Ineos), Zdenek Stybar, Jannik Steimle (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), Marco Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mads Pedersen, Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ) and Mick van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma) with him.
With 88km remaining, the race suddenly had an altogether different configuration. Jumbo-Visma, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl and Trek-Segafredo all had two men apiece up the road, while Vermeersch was also on hand for Van der Poel and Alpecin-Fenix. Back in the peloton, the pace-making duties now fell upon Bahrain Victorious and UAE Team Emirates.
The injection of urgency also intensified the battle for positions, and Christope Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) was a faller on the rapid approach to Berg ten Houte with 80km to go, when the bunch trailed the break by two minutes and the counter-attackers by 20 seconds.
The climb saw Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) and Kasper Asgreen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) force the pace, whittling down the peloton still further, but that surge failed to make any immediate inroads into the advantage of the counter-attackers.
As the pace dissipated from the bunch, Connor Swift (Arkea-Samsic) attacked on the Kanarieberg with Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ) and they managed to bridge across to the chasers, who were now rapidly closing in on the break and amassing sizeable advantage over the pre-race favourites.
On the flat run-in to the second ascent of the Kwaremont, UAE Team Emirates and Bahrain Victorious again set about stitching the race back together, with Trentin again to the fore on behalf of Pogačar.
The entire complexion of the Ronde changed in the space of two breathless kilometres on the first climb of the Oude Kwaremont, as Pogačar surged violently from the peloton, quickly closing the 20-second gap to the chasers and then simply cruising past them and the remnants of the early break. It was incredible to witness.
Asgreen had the strength to respond immediately, while the Pogačar express also picked up some passengers, including Pedersen, Turner, Garcia Cortina and Van der Hoorn.
Behind, there was only panic, as men like Van der Poel and Tom Pidcock picked their way through the splintering peloton and scrambled to catch back up to Pogačar. Fortunately, they made it.
Once the dust settled, there were 20 or so riders left in front, but there was little time to take stock as the Paterberg was next up. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) stretched things out here, with Van der Poel and Pidcock also to the fore, while Pogačar was pedalling with notable fluidity.
Tratnik’s teammate Fred Wright went on the attack over the other side, and he was joined in his escape by Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), building a lead of 20 seconds by the base of the fearsome Koppenberg.
The 22% slopes were the site of Pogačar’s second onslaught, as he stretched the group of favourites to breaking point with a long, seated acceleration. This time, Van der Poel was immediately on his wheel, with Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) joining the Big Two in the day’s key move.
Asgreen, so comfortable through the earlier hellingen, was absent, thwarted by a mechanical issue, his hopes of a second successive win evaporating.
Van der Poel, Pogačar and Madouas joined Wright and Van Baarle in front on the Taaienberg with 37km remaining, where they already had 40 seconds in hand on the rest of the pre-race contenders.
Van der Poel set the pace on the two-part punch of the Kruisberg-Hotond, where the break stretched its advantage over the chasers to 1:10, and it was already long clear that this quintet would decide the race between them on the grand finale over the Kwaremont and Paterberg.
When the gradient began to hurt, Pogačar once again upped the pace, leaving first Wright, then Madouas and Van Baarle to create his mano-a-mano battle with Van der Poel.
The Dutchman struggled at one point but hung on and survived over the top and even shared the work on the ride to the Paterberg. Pogačar tried another surge but the advantage tipped towards van der Poel.
The 13km ride to the finish in Oudenaarde saw them open a lead of 30 seconds on the chasers but they gave it all away by playing games with the finish in sight.
Van der Poel used his experience from victory in 2020 and defeat in 2021 to win, starting his sprint early and holding off his rivals as they fought for the best position near the barriers.
As Van der Poel celebrated, Pogačar could only sit up, frustrated in defeat, and watch Van Baarle and Madouas also snatch the podium places from his grasp.
1 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 6:18:30
2 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
3 Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
5 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:02
6 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
7 Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:11
8 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:48
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 0:01:02
14 Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:05
15 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team 0:01:07
16 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
17 Matis Louvel (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
18 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team DSM
19 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
20 Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Movistar Team
21 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
22 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
23 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
24 Amaury Capiot (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
25 Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels-KTM
26 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
27 Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
28 Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
29 Niki Terpstra (Ned) TotalEnergies
30 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
31 Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
32 Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
33 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
34 Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
35 Ben Turner (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:11
36 Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost
37 Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
38 Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
39 Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
40 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:18
41 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team 0:01:26
42 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:03:29
43 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
44 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
45 Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:05:11
46 Jannik Steimle (Ger) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
47 Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
48 Sander Armée (Bel) Cofidis
49 Clément Russo (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:05:13
50 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
51 Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
52 Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
53 Dion Smith (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco
54 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:05:16
55 Lewis Askey (GBr) Groupama-FDJ 0:07:44
56 Bob Jungels (Lux) AG2R Citroen Team
57 Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team
58 Julian Mertens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
59 Victor Koretzky (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
60 Sandy Dujardin (Fra) TotalEnergies
61 Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
62 Connor Swift (GBr) Arkea-Samsic
63 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost
64 Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team 0:08:24
65 Cedric Beullens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:08:50
66 Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
67 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
68 Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
69 Magnus Sheffield (USA) Ineos Grenadiers
70 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
71 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
72 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
73 Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal
74 Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
75 Mick van Dijke (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
76 Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
77 Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
78 Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
79 Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
80 Quentin Jauregui (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
81 Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:10:13
82 Iñigo Elosegui Momeñe (Spa) Movistar Team
83 Luke Durbridge (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
84 Filip Maciejuk (Pol) Bahrain Victorious
85 Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
86 Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team
87 Jonas Koch (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
88 Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
89 Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-EasyPost
90 Sander De Pestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
91 Max Kanter (Ger) Movistar Team
92 Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
93 Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
94 Markus Pajur (Est) Arkea-Samsic
95 Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
96 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
97 Julien Vermote (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:10:16
98 Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
99 Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
100 Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroen Team
101 Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team
102 Marco Haller (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
103 Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
DNF Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis
DNF Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Søren Wærenskjold (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNF Michael Gogl (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNF Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNF Daan Hoole (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNF William Levy (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNF Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Tobias Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNF Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-EasyPost
DNF Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) EF Education-EasyPost
DNF Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNF Adrien Petit (Fra) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
DNF Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-EasyPost
DNF Christophe Noppe (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
DNF Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-EasyPost
DNF Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
DNF Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
DNF Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
DNF Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Kelland O’Brien (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Gianni Moscon (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Leonardo Basso (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Michele Gazzoli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Karl Patrick Lauk (Est) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNF Campbell Stewart (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNF Ryan Mullen (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNF Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma
DNF Jordi Warlop (Bel) B&B Hotels-KTM
DNF Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
DNF Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Alexis Gougeard (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
DNF Kevin Vermaerke (USA) Team DSM
DNF Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNF Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNF Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Alexys Brunel (Fra) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Felix Groß (Ger) Uae Team Emirates
DNF Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies
DNF Maciej Bodnar (Pol) TotalEnergies
DNF Daniel Oss (Ita) TotalEnergies
DNF Sam Bewley (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNF Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Vito Braet (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNF Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Kim Heiduk (Ger) Ineos Grenadiers
DNF Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNF Alex Edmondson (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
DNS Wesley Kreder (Ned) Cofidis
DNS Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM