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Cycling News
Stephen Puddicombe

As it happened: Mathieu van der Poel makes history with record-equalling Flanders win

(Image credit: Flanders Classics)

Tour of Flanders - Everything you need to know

Tour of Flanders favourites

Cancellara's Tour of Flanders column

How to watch the Tour of Flanders

Tour of Flanders route

Race situation

Van der Poel clear after attack on the Koppenberg

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of Flanders 2024!

The peloton is in Antwerp and awaiting the flag that signals the end of the neutralised zone and the start of the race proper.


We're off!

Three riders attack right from the flag, involving riders from Astana, Jayco-AlUla and DSM rider.

Luke Durbridge, Dmitriy Gruzdev and Frank van den Broek are the three riders, and they’ve been joined by a Lotto-Dstny.

The peloton aren't happy with that group and they've been brought back.

Another small group briefly escaped and have been brought back. This could be a long battle for the definitive break to form.

Our first puncture of the day - Jules Hesters. That will the first of many!

A new group of six is now off the front, and are pushing hard.

Make that 8 riders, rather than 6. They're still only a few seconds ahead, and may be deemed too large by the peloton.

A second puncture now, and it's a big name - Dylan van Baarle. The Dutchman has already had hais fair share of bad luck this spring, with fitness issues.


20 seconds for the 8 leaders, but there's more activity at the front of the peloton with plenty of riders not ready to sit up yet.

Those riders in the break: Durbridge (again), Elmar Reinders, David Dekker, Bert Van Lerberghe, Jelle Vermoote, Lionel Taminaux, Stanisław Aniołkowski and Damien Touzé.

Attacks are still being made out the peloton in an attempt to join the 8 leaders, but to no avail so far. Jonas Rutsch was one such rider, adorning EF's new black kit, but was not allowed up the road.

Niklas Märkl of DSM has managed to get a gap on the peloton, but still has work to do to make it to the leaders. 

And he's unsuccessful - the peloton swallows him up.

Not that that has ended the action - more riders attack immediately as he is brought back. This is one of the race days of the season, and many riders want the kudos of spending much of it at the front.

Some of the big teams now showing themselves at the front of the peloton, perhaps trying to control things to calm this down. Visma-Lease a Bike, Bora-Hansgrohe, Soudal-QuickStep (if they can still be considered one of the big teams).


23 seconds now for the 8 leaders, and it's been a few minutes since the last counter-attacks. Could this be it?

Large crowds and flags of the lion of Flanders, familiar sights at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Image credit: Getty Images)

Still the peloton aren't content, with Jonas Rutsch among those accelerating at the front. The 8 leaders advantage has ben halved to little more than ten minutes.

It seems some of the top teams have now had enough and are shutting down any attempts to join the leading 8. Visma-Lease a Bike and Alpecin-Deceuninck have both ensured would-be escapees haven't managed to get out the peloton. 


As a reault the leaders have grown their advantage again, back up to 23 seconds. It's still not enough to secure their place as the day's break, however. 

Just as it looked like the peloton might have sat up, Dusan Rajovic attacks. Again it's shut down, but the increase in pace means the race still hasn't been allowed to settle. 

Still plenty of short and unsuccessful attacks from riders attempting to get out of the peloton are coming every minute or so. This is turning into a tiring start to what is a very tiring day.

Cyrus Monk of Q36.5 Pro Cycling is the first for a while to succeed in getting a gap on the peloton, albeit it a small one. Still a long way to bridge up to the leaders, though.


Indeed, Monk too has now been brought back. 30 seconds now between the leaders and the peloton. 

Van der Poel is by his team car, taking off a layer in what are mild conditions. He looks very relaxed, despite all the expectations he carries on his shoulders today. 

Now a Team Flanders Baloise rider is the latest to jump out the peloton. But his chase is set to be even harder than Monk's, with the gap now up to 45 seconds.

Is this it? The pace is off with that Flanders-Baloise rider caught, and some have taken a comfort break.

That is it! The peloton have sat up, and are riding so slow that a spectator riding a penny-farthing at the side of the road is almost able to keep up. 

Lots of comfort breaks and conversations being had now. The gap is up to two minutes, and growing.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

That fan on the penny-farthing one of the many weird and wonderful sights on the roadside, on what is the biggest party on the Belgian cycling calendar. This easter bunny at the start of the day easily the most nightmarish so far.  


In no time at all the gap is now up to over three minutes. We'll now have som downtime before the action kicks off later. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here's the day's break, who will now have the honour of leading the Tour of Flanders this morning. 

A reminder of the riders who make up the break:

Bert Van Lerberghe (Soudal-QuickStep)

Luke Durbridge (Jayco AlUla)

Elmar Reinders (Jayco AlUla)

David Dekker (Arkéa - B&B Hotels)

Damien Touzé (Decathlon AG2R)

Stanisław Aniołkowski (Cofidis)

Lionel Taminiaux (Lotto-Dstny)

Jelle Vermoote (Bingoal WB)

210km TO GO

Over four minutes now for those 8 riders in the break. There is more organisation now in the peloton, which is being led by Alpecin-Deceuninck, but they're happy to let them have a big lead.

To whet the appetite for the action to come, make sure to have a read of our interview with Nick Nuyens, reflecting on winning one of the most memorable editions of the Tour of Flanders in 2011.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As you can see, it’s blue skies at the Tour of Flanders. There’s no threat of any rain for now, and there’s no wind to speak of either - to the relief of many.

The leaders had to stop briefly at a level crossing. Thankfully it's a much more orderly stoppage that than of a few years ago, when some riders dangerously crossed the barriers after they had come down.

Strangely, the organisers haven’t stopped the peloton to rebalance the race. That’s harsh on the break, who had to wait almost a minute at the level crossing.


The break has indeed seen the leaders' advantage come down quite a bit, from over four minutes to aout 3-30.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While we wait for the action to kick off, let's reflect on some of the favourites. 

It’s been a while since there was such an overwhelming favourite for a Tour of Flanders victory that Mathieu van der Poel. With Tadej Pogačar skipping the race this year, and Wout van Aert out injured, the way seems clear for the Dutchman to claim a third-career Ronde victory. So far this spring he has looked every bit as strong as during his history-making 2023 season, and the way he rode everyone off his wheel at E3 SaxoBank Classic was ominous. On the harder parcours of the Tour of Flanders, you’d expect him to be even harder to stop.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Van der Poel's one slip up this spring came at Gent-Wevelgem, where Mads Pedersen finished off great work from Lidl-Trek to beat him in a two-up sprint. Pedersen had been in stellar form, and established himself as perhaps the man most likely to beat Van der Poel, but is now an unknown quantity having gone down in the same crash that took out Wout van Aert on Wednesday. He’s a tough competitor though, and has made it to the start. Who knows what we can expect from him?

Van Aert and Christophe Laporte might both be missing, but Visma-Lease a Bike still has a quality line-up of riders capable of animating the race. Dylan van Baarle and Tiesj Benoot are their most experienced riders, but perhaps their best hope is Matteo Jorgenson, the young American who has not only won Paris-Nice, but also looked brilliant on the cobbles to win Dwars door Vlaanderen and finish fifth at E3 Saxo Classic. He’s one of very few riders with the raw talent to potentially compete against Van der Poel.


Alpecin-Deceuninck are embracing their status as overwhelming favourites, and are leading the peloton with no help from any other teams. They're keeping the break's lead stable at 3-45.

The absence of so many expected favourites, be it through injury, such as Van Aert and Stuyven, or through choice, like Pogačar and Philipsen, give other riders a better chance than usual to pull off a result. Could perennial high bridesmaids Matej Mohorič and Stefan Küng capitalise? Or perhaps Alberto Bettiol could repeat his victory from 2019, given that he’s looked in his best form since then?


Just 12km now until the first cobbled sector, the Lippenhovestraat. It's only a relatively mild one, though - the real action will get going in about 45km with the first ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. 

This is an unusual edition of the Tour of Flanders in that, in the list of pre-race favourites, there is nobody from Belgium’s leasing team Soudal-QuickStep. We’re used to seeing them control this early phase of the race by controlling the peloton, but this year they’re taking an opposite approach, having placed a rider up in the break in Bert Van Lerberghe. That’s the kind of tactic you associate with second tier, non-World Tour teams, not the most famous classics team in the world.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Soudal-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere, looking forlorn at his team’s chances - although he tends to wear the same expression even when they win.


Still about 4 minutes for the break. Alpecin continue to lead the peloton but we expect teams like Visma-Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek to start putting them under pressure later. 

In fact, as we speak other teams have taken over from Alpecin at the front. They’re not attacking though, but rather positioning themselves ahead of the first cobbled sector of the day, coming upon a couple of kilometres.

The break are on the cobbles, where large crowds are there to greet them. If it's like that here, we can only imagine the atmosphere on the famous bergs!

Movistar is the team leading the peloton on the cobbles. Now they've arrived at the cobbled stretch and the fight for position over, the pace has calmed again. 

Now they're on the Paddestraat, a cobbled sector that comes immediately after the Lippenhovestraat. Everything's still relaxed - there still hasn't been a crash yet all day, mercifully. 


That's it for the cobbles for now, but less than 25km now until Oude Kwaremont. Anticipation is building!

One thing that isn't building though is the break's lead, which is now down to 3-30. That's likely to get much smaller once the pace really increases on the arrival to the Kwaremont. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The first sight of cobblestones today, on the Lippenhovestraat.

The pace is calm for now - calm enough for Van der Poel to shed a gilet at the back of the peloton and have a talk with his team car. He’ll need to be back at the front in a few kilometres when the race for positioning onto the Oude Kwaremont begins.


Over four minutes again for the break. They've got a big enough lead to stay out for a while longer yet, even as the race is about to ignite soon. 

The riders are passing through the town of Oudenaarde, near where the race will finish in a few hour’s time. The long trek south-westwards from the start in Antwerp is over, and we’re now in the heart of the region of Flanders where all the action happens.

Bike change needed for Dekker in the break. If you're going to have a mechanical, now's the time, just before the climbs start to come thick and fast. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Under 5km to go now until the Oude Kwaremont. Here's where the race proper begins.

The Oude Kwaremont has become one of the iconic climbs of the Tour of Flanders. You can read all about it here.

The break are on the Kwaremont now.

Meanwhile the pace is really up in the peloton. This is where things can get dangerous, and crashes a possibility. 

Huge roars are greeting the break on the Kwaremont. Every inch of the roadside has been filled.

Van Lerberghe is leading the break through a wall of noise on the Kwaremont. It really is something to see the roads lined for the entirity of the 2km climb. 

An issue for a a few riders in the peloton. It's not exactly a crash, as the pace was at virtually a standstill as they approached a corner, but they have had to climb off the saddle for a bit and have ground to make up.

That corner was leading into the Kwaremont, that the peloton is climbing now, with Alpecin back at the front. 

The riders involved in that mini-crash were Dylan Teuns, Cyrus Monk, Georg Zimmerman - and Matej Mohorič, whose among the favourites for the win. That's not ideal for the Slovenian, who is having to climb the Kwaremont somewhere towards the back. 

They've crested the Kwaremont, and the peloton remains all together. 


Despite the increase in pace before the Kwaremont, the riders in the break have still managed to maintain a sizable lead of 3-30. They've now got about 15km of respite before the next climb, Kapelleberg.

A crash in the peloton, and this time it's a more serious one. About four or five riders are down, none seriosuly hurt, but moving quite gingerly. 

No favourites involved in that crash, but some big names and important domestiques - Ineos’ Ben Swift, Bora’s Nico Denz, Israel-Premier Tech’s Guillaume Boivin and Riley Sheehan.

Now it’s confirmed that Boivin has abandoned - the second DNF of the day, following Edvald Boasson Hagen's withdrawal earlier.

Oscar Riesebeek leads the peloton up the Oude Kwaremont (Image credit: Getty Images)


The fight for position is really on in the peloton now, and the pace is up. The break's lead is down to 3 minutes as a result. 

Near miss for a few riders at the back of the peloton, who just about managed to stay upright after a tough of wheels. Things are getting tense.

Now there's a proper crash, with 4 riders down. It's at the back of the peloton so no favourites involved, and nobody appears too hurt.

That crash occurred on the run-in to the Kapelleberg, which the breakaway are climbing now.

Lidl-Trek and Visma-Lease a Bike are at the front of the peloton as the climb approaches. These are the teams expected to take the race to Van der Poel - will they dare try anything this early?

An attack has been made over the top of the climb, but from an Uno-X rider rather than a representative of one of those teams.

Alpecin-Deceuninck regained control on the climb, and they have a rider on that Uno-X rider’s wheel.

Axel Laurance is the Alpecin rider, and Jonas Abrahamsen the Uno-X.

Interestingly, Laurence is working with Abrahamson. Alpecin are taking a pro-active approach to being the targetted team.

That pair have started climbing the Wolvenberg, while Visma-Lease a Bike lead the peloton a few seconds behind.

Matteo Jorgenson leads the peloton on the Wolvenberg, bringing the duo back and stringing the bunch out. It's an acceleration rather than an attack, but the American is forcing everyone to be watchful.


All this has seen the break's lead plummit to just 1-40.

They've done the climb but selections are already forming. The peloton is reduced already, to maybe about 60 or so riders.

The race is really on now! Accelerations are coming out of the front of the bunch, including one from Mads Pedersen. He's been marked, but Laurenz Rex now has a small gap.

Problem for Alpecin-Deceuninck as key domestique Søren Kragh Andersen has a mechanical, and another of their riders is delayed as they debate whether to swap bikes or wait for the team car. Alpecin have looked very controlled so far, but they don't want to lose two riders from the front of the peloton this early.

The pace has slackened, following what has been a frantic few minutes. Things will kick off again imminently as the Molenberg approaches, one of the toughest climbs of the race. 

Rex was caught, incidentally, and there are no riders between the peloton and the 8 escapees 1-50 up the road.

Søren Kragh Andersen is back in the bunch, in a relief for team leader Van der Poel.

Don’t forget that the women’s Tour of Flanders is taking place simultaneously. You can follow all the action with us here.

A few ominous drops of rain starting to fall. This could really throw a cat among the pigeons should the cobbles get wet.


Lots of Lidl-Trek and Visma-Lease a Bike assembling at the front of the peloton. The Molenberg might be where their first serious moves are made. 

The break are on the Molenberg now. The peloton are only about 1-30 behind so not long 'till they start climbing it too.

Lidl-Trek lead onto the climb with two riders.

Pedersen attacks!

Jorgenson and Van der Poel on his wheel.

Those three reach the top of the climb together.

Stefan Küng is the fourth rider to crest the climb, and is dragging a group to them.

We now have a group of 12 riders formed by that Pedersen attack.

Visma-Lease a Bike on the attack now, and have 2 riders in Benoot and Van Dijk with Pithie and a UAE rider off the front.

Those four have been brought back by a group much larger than it was over the top of the Molenberg.

More attacks as that quartet is caught, led by Alaphilippe.

Those riders have also been brought back, but there's no control at the moment. 

Dylan van Baarle is the latest rider to attack. He's not a man they can afford to let up the road.

Van Baarle has 9 riders with him, including a Visma-Lease a Bike teammate. They have a few seconds ahead of another group not much bigger, among them Van der Poel.

This Van Baarle group looks very strong. Also present in it is Tiesj Benoot, Ben Turner, Oliver Naesen and Nils Politt. 

The Van Baarle group looks set to catch the breakaway, as they approach the next climbs - the Marlboroughstraat.

Mads Pedersen is also in the Van Baarle group, rendering it even more dangerous.

The Van Baarle/Pedersen group has caught the break on the climb, and Benoot is leading them up it.

More attacks from the peloton behind, with Lazkano the instigator. Van der Poel isn't panicking just yet though. 

Lazkano and fellow attacker Fred Wright have been caught, but there's no organisation in this chase.

The lead group, by contrast, are working well. Visma are enthused by having two of their strongest riders in it, Benoot and Van Baarle, while Lidl-Trek have their leader Pedersen there. 


20 seconds between the lead group and the peloton. Van der Poel needs some teammates to control the race for him.

Now the rain starts to fall!

It's only a drizzle for now, but could spell danger if it keeps falling.

Van der Poel has three riders with him setting the pace in the peloton. That's a lot, but not enough if the lead group all work well together.

There are plenty of riders in the lead group with incentive to work, too. As well as Benoot, Van Baarle and Pedersen, favourites such as Nils Politt, Oliver Naesen, Tim Merlier, Ben Turner, and Laurenz Rex are also present.

Van der Poel attacks!

And he's bridged up to the lead group.

It seems the plan was for the Alpecin riders to up the pace to get Van der Poel close enough to bridge the gap up himself, which he did in a matter of moments after attacking.

While he's recovering though, Mads Pedersen attacks!

Fortunately for Van der Poel, he has Gianni Vermeersch on Pedersen’s wheel. Vermeersch was Alpecin’s sole representative in the break, and is now showing how useful a position that is.

Vermeersch isn't taking any turns, but that isn't stopping Pedersen from pressing on.

Pedersen and Vermeersch have a big gap of over ten minutes now, despite Pedersen doing all the work. He must be confidant that he can drop Vermeersch on the climbs - the next of which is Berg Ten Houte, in about 10km. 

Crash back in the peloton, and Stefan Küng is involved. He's up, but taking his time to get going again.

Vermeersch is now taking turns with Pedersen. That's interesting, as you would have assumed Pedersen would be deemded too much of a threat.


13 seconds now between Pedersen and Vermeersch up ahead, and the reduced peloton behind. 

One thing Vermeersch’s presence in the break has achieved is to force other teams to chase. There’s been a regrouping in the peloton behind, which is much bigger now than it was immediately after the previous flurry of climbs. Ineos Grenadiers are the team leading the chase.

Another group has now made contact with the peloton, which consequently swells to a considerable size now.

Pedersen and Vermeersh are on Berg Ten Houte now, with a lead of about 30 seconds.

The two leaders (Image credit: Getty Images)

Stefan Küng is trying to chase back to the peloton, all by himself. He's surely out of contention for the win.

Some riders trying to clip off the front of the peloton now the climb's summit has been crested, but none managing to go clear.


Vermeersch and Pedersen still out ahead with a lead of 18 seconds. The Kruisberg is the next climb in about 6km, after which is the Oude Kwaremont again and the beginning of the really serious business. 

Not only do Alpecin have Vermeersch out front, they also have two riders at the front of the peloton looking after Van der Poel. They might have been under pressure earlier on in the race, but they have things well under control for now.

Fabian Cancellara's been spotted on the road side at the feedzone, handing out bidons. Van der Poel is hoping to join him on three Flanders victories today - but not replicate what happened to him in 2011, when, as a similarly ret hot favourite, he was tactically outmanoeuvred to be defeated. You can read all about that terrific edition of the race here.

Talking of tactics, just what is Mads Pedersen up to here? Even with the assistance of Vermeersch, this is a big effort, and one that’s being made with a lot of racing still to do. Does he really believe he can win with such an early attack? Or has his crash earlier this week changed his approach, and leading him into more of a supplementary role in favour of teammates like Jonathan Milan and Toms Skujiņš?

Alpecin-Deceninck are hardly playing things by the tactical playbook, either, leading the peloton despite having Vermeersch. But there is a clear method here - Vermeersch is marking one of their main threats, Mads Pedersen, while the others are discouraging other attacks from the peloton by controlling things, while also keeping Van der Poel well positioned. 


Big increase in pace as the Kwaremont nears. The duo's lead dips beneath 30 seconds 

A few riders held up on one of the tight squeezes heading towards the Kwaremont. Nobody hit the deck though, thankfully.

The leading duo start the Kwaremont with a lead of only 10 seconds on the peloton, due to the pace increase ahead of the climb.

Lazkano leads the peloton on the climb, with Van der Poel on his wheel.

Lazkano's flying up this climb, and has caught the duo already

Now Van der Poel attacks!


Van der Poel has alead of a few seconds towards the summit.

Van der Poel's been joined by a few riders as he leads over the summit: Lazkano, Teuns, Pithie, Wellens and Pedersen.

That sextet has a handy lead already.

They don't look eager to press on though, and groups are coming back from behind.

The lead group is now about 20 riders big, as groups bridge up to those six riders.

They're on the Paterberg now, and Ben Turner is leading the peloton

Van der Poel is fourth in line.

Things haven't kicked off on the Paterberg as much as they did on the Oude Kwaremont. The peloton is strung out, but no groups have got away.

One rider has managed to slip clear - Ivan Garcia. The Spaniard was in good form earlier in the spring, but is racing for the first time since abandoning the Volta a Catalunya.

Pithie and Toms Skujiņš are having to do a bit of work to rejoin the group of favourites, which only has about a dozen riders left in it for now.

This is a good move from Garcia. He's been given ten seconds by the favourites group, who maybe don't consider him too much of a threat.

There aren't many riders in the group of favourites: just Van der Poel, Pedersen, Mohoric, Benoot, Skujiņš, Pithie, Jorgensen, Rex, Lazkano, Turner, Politt, Teuns, Wellens, Naesen.

A few more riders have joined on the approach to the climb: Mozzato, Van der Berg, and one of the pre-race favourites Michael Matthews.

They're on the Koppenberg now!

Garcia's had a problem and has dropped his chain

Van der Poel attacks on the Koppenberg!

Amazing images here that only the Koppenberg can provide: even riders in the front group are having to dismount on walk up it!

Not Van der Poel though, who is flying up it. Jorgenson is in sol pursuit but there's daylight between them.

Even further back is Mads Pedersen - but this is still some ride from the Dane given his earlier efforts.

After Pedersen is Teuns, then Garcia, but there's seconds between them

Then Bettiol, Rex and Wellens in a small group.

7 seconds between Van der Poel and Jorgenson. There are 43km to go, which is only slightly longer than where he attacked to win E3 last week. Will he think about sitting up, or is this the winning move already?

Behind Jorgensen, there's already a huge 25 seconds to the next man on the road, Mads Pedersen.

Jorgenson can see Van der Poel up the road on a long straight section of road, but isn't making any inroads. Van der Poel isn't looking back, and doesn't seem to have any intention of waiting for him.

Van der Poel is on the Mariaborrestraat cobbled sector now, and his lead's getting bigger - up to 15 seconds now.

Meanwhile Pedesen has company now, with Teuns joining him. That will be of great use as they try to bring back Jorgenson.

We're seeing a reply of Garcia on the Koppernberg, and it turns out it wasn't a mechanical - the cobbles were simply too hard. It seems slight rainfall we've had was enough to make the cobbles here slippy, and therefore even more difficult than usual.

Garcia, Wellens, Bettiol and Rex have now also joined Pedersen and Teuns. They currently occupy the places 3rd - sixth on the road, behind Van der Poel in first and Jorgenson in second. 

Van der Poel’s on the Taaienberg now, and his gap's getting bigger and bigger. Now over 40 seconds.

Jorgenson is experiencing similar to what his teammate Van Aert did at E3 Saxo Classic - he was agonisingly close a short while ago, but is now seeing the world champion jersey grow further and further into the distance. 

Pedersen appears to be suffering from his earlier efforts now. He’s been dropped by the chase group, along with Rex.

Not far behind them are no less than 3 Ineos riders in a chase group. If they can get organised then the riders behind Van der Poel are catchable.

Jorgenson has been swallowed up by the chase group, now consisting of just Bettiol, Teuns, Wellens and Garcia. 


They're all 1-15 behind Van der Poel, however. This could be another huge winning margin at this rate.

Rex and Pedersen hae managed to rejoin the chase group, swelling it to seven riders. These riders can all be pleased with how they've raced today - it's just that Van der Poel is on another planet.

Those seven chasers should be able to contest for the remaining podium places, as the next group on the road is almost a minute behind.

The chasers are racing each other rather than organise to try and bring back Van der Poel, suggesting that they've the podium spots in mind. Garcia has attacked and has a small gap.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here's Van der Poel attacking on the Koppenberg, Jorgenson in the distance behind, in what looks sure to be the race-winning move.

Still three climbs left to ride up, the first of which, the Oude Kruisberg, Van der Poel is on now.

Teuns is leading the chasers on the Kruisberg. The Belgian hasn't shown much this spring, but often seems to raise his game for big monuments and has done so again today.

Bettiol accelerates, and has split the group up. The riders who went deepest to try and chase Van der Poel initially, Jorgenson and Pedersen, are first out the back, suggesting they’re paying for those efforts.

Only Teuns left with Bettiol now, with Wellens and Garcia a few seconds behind. 


Up ahead Van der Poel's lead is still growing. It's now 1-42, and he still has one more ascent up the Kwaremont and Paterberg to extend it. 

Here's a glimpse of some of the carnage on the Koppenberg. That's Tim Wellens and Dylan Teuns in the background having to dismount - two of the strongest riders in the break, who are now in the hunt for podium places.

(Image credit: Getty Images)


This is shaping up to be an ecxciting battle for the podium places. Bettiol and Teuns only have a few seconds on Wellens and Garcia behind. The upcoming climbs will be decisive.

Further behind, Michael Matthews, Toms Skujiņš and Oliver Naesen have joined Pedersen, Rex and Jorgenson. Pedersen will be grateful for having a teammate with him. 

Van der Poel is on the Oude Kwaremont for one last time, and is been greeted by huge cheers.

Van der Poel has reached the top, and his lead is just short of two minutes! Even by the recent standards of huge solo wins from the likes of himself and Tadej Pogačar and Remco Evenepoel, that's truly enormous.

Behind, Bettiol and Teuns appear to have increased their lead over the next chase group.

The make-up of the group behind Bettiol and Teuns has changed, with some including Pedersen and Jorgenson dropped, and others including Benoot now in it.

Now Van der Poel's on the Paterberg, the last climb of the race.

Now Teuns and Bettiol are on the Paterberg, and Teuns is dropping him.

Not far behind, the next chase group in full consists of: Benoot, Skujiņš, Wellens, Matthews, Tarling, Mozzato, Benoot, Hirschi, Mogrado and Politt.

Bettiol managed to limit his losses to Teuns on the Paterberg, and is back with him The pair have to work together though if they want podium spots, as the other group is bearing down on them.

It appears the Ineos rider was Magnus Sheffield rather than Josh Tarling, and the American has gone clear from the rest of the chasers with Oliver Naesen and Michael Matthews.

Puncture for Tiesj Benoot, one of several riders who is (or at least was) still in contention for a podium finish.

Sheffield, Matthews and Naesen have now been caught by six other chasers, most of them UAE riders: Wellens, Politt, Morgado and Bjerg (not Hirschi as earlier said), plus Mozzato and Skujiņš. 

Not present is Benoot, who had a slow bike chance and is out of contention.


Van der Poel is at least showing some signs of tiredness: his lead has dropped to 1-20, as chasers Bettiol and Teuns continue to ride hard But they're racing to fend off the chasers, rather than in any hope of bringing the world champion back.

Four of the nine riders in the chase group behind Bettiol and Teuns are UAE Team Emirates riders. If they're to make up the 10 seconds they need to bring that duo back and bring a podium position into play, it'll be up to them to do so.

Just 1,500 metres left for Van der Poel to complete.

Van der Poel might have already won the Tour of Flanders twice, but on both those occasions he took somebody with him to the finishing straight before outsprinting them - Wout van Aert in 2020, and Tadej Pogačar in 2022. This time, he’ll have the privilege of being able to soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy the feeling of knowing he’s won before he crosses the line. 

He is indeed making the most of it, slowing down and taking in the crowd's applause.

Mathieu van der Poel wins the Tour of Flanders!

He's had plenty of time to think of a celebration, and he's come up with a great one for the photographers - as he crosses the line, he lifts the bike up above his head

Menawhile there's an intense battle for the podium spots, as the chasers bear down on Teuns and Bettiol...

...they catch them just in time! Matthews and Mozzato take the podium spots.

It seems Mozzato edged out Matthews for second-place. That's a huge result for both the Italian, and his Arkéa - B&B Hotels team.

Not just a huge result for Mozzato, but surely the best of his career.

Meanwhile third-place for Michael Matthews is a first ever Tour of Flanders podium for the Australian, and follows his second-place finish at Milan-Sanremo. Whereas he was devastated to get so close to winning that time, surely he'll be delighted at this result given the impossibility of anybody stopping Van der Poel.

Plenty of other surprise names in the top ten as well as Mozzato: who would have predicted Bjerg, Morgado and Sheffield to also finish so highly?

But one thing that certainly was not a surprise was the winner. Van der Poel delivered everything that was expected of him and then some, not showing any signs of the pressure he was under. His eventual winning margin of 1-02 might not have been as big as it looked like being when he grew a lead of almost two minutes on the Oude Kwaremont, but it’s still huge.

To put Van der Poel’s win into perspective, it’s a considerably bigger margin than the 16 seconds Tadej Pogačar won by last year, which was the first time the Ronde had been won solo since 2019. 

As for wins bigger than his 1-02 margin, you have to go all the way back to Fabian Cancellara’s 2013 triumph for the last time someone won by more (on that occasion, 1-27).

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An update on the podium finish - Michael Matthews has been relegated for dangerous sprinting, meaning that Nils Politt has instead been promoted to third-place.

The victory means Van der Poel draws level with Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, Johan Museeuw, Eric Leman, Fiorenzo Magni and Achiel Buysse on the all-time list with three victories. At the age of just 31, he has plenty of time to do what none of those riders could, and become the first man in history to win a fourth title.

Regarding Matthews’ relegation, it seems he’s been punished for deviating from his line and not allowing Politt any room to pass him by the barrier. Politt was visibly incensed and believed his line had been unfairly blocked - and so to, it seems, did the commissaires.

A moment's thought for Teuns and Bettiol, who appeared to have podium places sewn up before being caught agonisingly on the finishing straight. Instead, they have to settle for eighth and nine respectively.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here’s more images from the Kopenberg, which really was a throwback to the past with most riders resorting to walking up. It was also the moment where Van der Poel made his race-winning attack, not just staying on the bike all the way up, but flying up at a pace that even those who didn’t have to walk couldn’t get anywhere near matching.

Thanks for joining us today, for what must surely go down as one of the greatest rides to win the Tour of Flanders in the race’s history. 

Don’t forget also that the women’s race is still going - and it’s all kicking off! Be sure to follow our live report.

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