Mathieu van der Poel overcame his rival Wout van Aert in a two-up sprint at the Tour of Flanders 2020, beating him on the line after having led out in the final kilometre.
The pair had been part of a move off the front alongside Julian Alaphilippe, the world champion having attacked with 45km remaining, Van der Poel immediately racing to get on the Frenchman’s wheel before Wout van Aert then moved up to make a leading trio.
Disaster struck for Alaphilippe 10km later, though, after Van Aert had been drafting a motorbike, moving out of the way as it started to slow, Van der Poel then quickly moving across to avoid colliding but leaving Alaphilippe with no time to take evasive action, the Frenchman flung into the air and landing hard on his front, screaming in agony and out of the race.
Van der Poel and Van Aert pushed on, extending their lead to over a minute before an Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) counter-attack behind brought their advantage back down under the 60-second mark.
Up the Paterberg with 13km to go their move had clearly stuck, and the two rivals would be duking it out for victory.
Into the final 5km and their gap was still at 50 seconds, relaying to make sure they wouldn’t be caught. The game of cat and mouse began under the flamme rouge, the chasers slowly making ground behind as they raced for third.
Van Aert opened his sprint from behind having waited until 250m to go, the pair neck and neck but Van der Poel managed to edge him on the line, wild celebrations ensuing with his team as he came to a stop, having claimed his first Monument victory.
Full race report and results to follow…
Tour of Flanders 2020: Antwerpen to Oudenaarde (243.3km)
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
4. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
5. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Elegant – Quick-Step
6. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis
7. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
9. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
10. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Sunweb