Mathieu van der Poel outsprints his arch rival Wout van Aert to win the Tour of Flanders
Van der Poel follows in the wheeltracks of his father Adrie, who won this race back in 1986
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.
VIDEO: 2020 Tour of Flanders Highlights
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.
VIDEO: Disaster strikes for Alaphilippe
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.
Van der Poel said the press afterwards, "I have no words for this. I am speechless. I wasn't sure – normally I always feel [who won], but I was so broken in the sprint. All of the sudden the measure was there and I had to jump. I looked at Wout's wheel, but neither of us knew. I always believed in it.
"I was looking behind me at Wout, not at the chasers. I knew that the later the sprint was started, the more it became to my advantage. The fact that Wout started late was a sign that he too was tired to death. I caught him perfectly, but he came halfway next to me.
"Then the acidification came to my ears. Suddenly it was there. I feared I was too late with my jump. I didn't dare to cheer. They told me twice that I had won, but I asked for confirmation ten times. This makes up for so much. The number 51 [like father Adrie] will be something special."
2020 Tour of Flanders Top 10
1 Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
2 Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
4 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
5 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Elegant-Quickstep
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) Team Sunweb