Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 2022 Tour of Flanders.
As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders are gathering in the centre of Antwerp for the start.
The sun is out and Cyclingnews reporters Patrick Fletcher and Barry Ryan are at the start, capturing the riders’ final thoughts and the atmosphere of the big race.
The crowds are also back at the race after a two-year absence. We expect over a million people along the race route today, despite the sunny but cold weather.
This is the moment Alpecin-Fenix rode to the sign-on podium.
?? #RVV22?️ @Stad_Antwerpen ??? pic.twitter.com/ZzhcvLzWyqApril 3, 2022
The sign-on is over and the riders are on the move to the official race start on the outskirts of Antwerp.
The riders are wrapped up against the cold but there is a sense of nerves and pre-race tension in the air.
The riders will face 272km of racing when the flag drops the race starts.
The riders keen to go in the early break are gathering in the slipstream of the race director’s car.
This was Ed Theuns’s view from the sign-on stage.
Ok, let’s go! @RondeVlaanderen pic.twitter.com/tky571eeL1April 3, 2022
The riders are in the tunnel that cuts below Antwerp. A last moment of calm.
This was the roll out from Antwerp.
#RVVmen? Heeren, vertrekt! The men elite have just started their race to Oudenaarde. They will have to digest 271,2 km with 1️⃣8️⃣ hills and 7 cobbled sections. Let’s go! ? #RVV22 pic.twitter.com/BzKRyobTsUApril 3, 2022
We’re just minutes away from the official start.
The riders are along the river, with riders resolving last minute bike issues. Victor Campenaerts stops so a mechanic can reset his gears.
Wesley Kreder (Cofidis) and Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) did not start due to illness.
There are also major problems at Astana: leader Gianni Moscon and some Italian teammates will probably not last too long after also feeling unwell.
Jasper Stuyven and Tom Pidcock are also riding back to the peloton after pre-race stops.
The pace is slow in the neutralised sector, as riders know they face a long, hard day in the saddle.
The neutralised sector is 9.3km long.
Niki Terpstra, Taco van der Hoorn and Brent Van Moer are near the front.
And they’re off. Race director Scott Sunderland waves the flag and the race is officially underway.
We have attacks straight away!
270km to go
The pace has eased but there other riders trying to go up the road.
Manuele Boaro of Astana seems keen to go in the early break.
The flat roads south of Antwerp last for 130km, giving plenty of road for the early attack to form.
This is the map of the final part of the race, when the hills come thick and fast.
Manuele Boaro (Astana) is joined by Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar) but he peloton close them down.
Tadej Pogacar spoke about his chances at the start.
“I think the crowds are going to be crazy. It’ll be amazing. The last two years were a little sad but this year I think it’s going to be legendary,” Pogacar said.
“It’s impressive”, he said of the huge crowd on the Grote Markt.
“I’m confident in my form, but the slopes and cobblestones are going to be a challenge.”
260km to go
We seem to have a more serious attack forming. There are seven riders away and others are trying to join them.
Sooner or later the peloton will close down the group and let them go.
Stan Dewulf, Sébastien Grignard, Manuele Boaro, Max Kanter, Tom Bohli, Mathijs Paasschens, Lindsay De Vylder, Luca Mozzato and Taco van der Hoorn all seem to be in the attack.
This one is serious, perhaps too serious to let go. Indeed, there is a chase by the peloton.
255km to go
The peloton isn’t committed to the chase.
Jumbo-Visma seem keen to let the attack go. Other teams perhaps want a smaller group and so are trying to chase them down.
These are the 9 attackers:
Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën)
Sebastien Grignard (Lotto-Soudal)
Lindsay De Vylder (Sport Flanders-Baloise)
Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert)
Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB)
Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan)
Luca Mozzato (B&B)
Tom Bohli (Cofidis)
Max Kanter (Movistar)
The 9 are working well together.
Behind the peloton eased but then a UNo-X rider surged away to spark the chase.
EF Education-EasyPost are not in the break and so are chasing in the peloton.
Team DSM are also upping the pace. But the break has a 30-second lead.
Matteo Trentin spoke of his own form and UAE’s tactics to help Tadej Pogacar.
“It’s not too cold, so we’re pretty happy,” the Italian said.
“It’s a day by day race scenario for me. After concussion and bronchitis together, it was kind of a shit situation. I’m getting better with every training day but it’s difficult to make a plan because you need to be 110% to be up front. So Tadej is our top guy. For me the goal is to be my best for him and for myself and for the team.”
Ouch! A squeeze in the road sees several riders go down.
Tadej Pogacar is one of them.
He and the others are quickly up and away but that will cause some concern and a shot of adrenaline.
The road is only one lane ride as they pass through Sint-Niklaas. Position is vital even so early at the Tour of Flanders.
The pace in the peloton has slowed on the narrow roads, helping the break extend its lead.
Their gap is up to 1:20 and growing.
Riders in the peloton are already eating to keep their energy levels up.
The peloton is setting into chase mode with Tim Declercq (QuickStep) and Julien Vermote (Alpecin) on the front and leading the chase.
Matteo Trentin dropped back to the UAE team car.
Apparently to collect Tadej Pogacar’s power meter that he lost it in the tumble.
240km to go
The nine attackers now lead by 2:30. The peloton has changed to tempo mode.
Ben Swift is also doing some of the early work to chase the attack for Ineos leader Tom Pidcock.
Riders are starting to take off some of the warm clothing as the race heats up.
It was close to zero before the start but will be around 7 for most of the day.
235km to go
The gap is up to 3:00.
The races passes through Hamme, near Greg Van Avermaet’s hometown of Lokeren. The former Olympic champion takes time to wave to his fans.
GVA is now 36 and is riding his 15th Ronde.
The race has also passed the Stefan Kung fan club bar.
The Stefan Kung song was sung as the peloton passed.
Kilomètre 35 ? pic.twitter.com/ti5tNP2QOmApril 3, 2022
230km to go
The peloton is lined out as they try to peg the gap to around 3:00.
We’re halfway to the first section of cobbles, when things will get more tense and positioning will be more important.
For now riders can still drop back to team cars for bidons, food, tactical advice or to drop off clothing.
Most riders are wearing jackets and leg warmers, so there will be a lot of clothing to remove later.
Jumbo-Visma has also placed a rider up front to help the peloton chase the attackers.
The average speed after one hour of racing is 47.8 kilometers.
There have not been massive attacks or surges but the pace is high.
There is no wind today for now. It could increase later today and so slow any late attacks but we’re expecting a fast and aggressive race.
The team cars are up with the 9 riders in the break, offering advice and food.
Spanish veteran Imanol Erviti stops for a second time to get his race bike back after a problem.
This is the early break of the day.
And this is the peloton.
205km to go
As the kilometres tick down, the break has extended their lead to 4:00.
The big-name contenders in this photo from the start are all sat in the pack, saving their energy for the finale of the race.
This was the view on the Antwerp Grote Markt. The crowds are back at the Tour of Flanders after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.
This was the atmosphere at the start.
☀️ Looking back on a perfect morning ? #RVV22 #RVVmen pic.twitter.com/aFv1XJqL2bApril 3, 2022
200km to go
The break reaches the 200km to go point. That would be a usual race distance but today they have already covered 72km.
That is why the Tour of Flanders is a monument Classic.
The race is about to cross the main motorway that crosses Belgium from the coast to Brussels and beyond.
The race is near Haaltert, south of Aalst. The cobbles sand climbs are getting nearer and nearer.
Riders are passing through a feed zone, with their teams offering bidons from the roadside.
Even through packed towns and villages, the riders dive through corners.
The crowds are out on virtually every metre of the race route.
Race favourites such as Asgreen, Pogacar and Benoot are up front in the peloton, while Van der Poel is down the back.
Four teams are leading the chase: Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates, Alpecin-Fenix and QuickStep-AlphaVinyl.
Oliver Naesen of AG2R Citroen spoke of the absence of Wout van Aert and the chances of his team leader Greg van Avermaet.
“It’s a real shame not having Wout van Aert here, he was in great shape,” he said.
“You don’t get that many chances to win Flanders and so every chance missed, when you’re in good shape, so it’s an expensive loss for him. For the rest of the peloton, the number 1 favourite is out so it opens it up a bit.”
“He’s physically not the strongest on the start line but he’s got the experience, probably the most in the race looking at his number of podiums here.”
Campenaerts and Matej Mohoric are both amongst the team cars, perhaps to take off some clothing.
They should move up because in 15 kilometers they will hit the Lippenhovestraat cobbled sector.
It is the first of seven sectors in the next 140km of the race.
The riders covered 43.6km in the second hour of racing, the race average is a painful 45.7km.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) received a massive cheer at the start.
“With the crowd, I think it will be crazy, I think it’s going to be amazing. The last two years without crowds was a bit sad, but I think this year is going to be legendary,” he said.
“It is my first time here and so far, so good. I hope it continues in the race. I have the sections written on my stem. I hope to know them by heart in a few years. Matteo Trentin will be my guide. He knows the roads here.”
The speed is up in the peloton as the cobbles approach.
There are actually two sectors of cobbles together. The Paddestraat sector follows the Lippenhovestraat sector.
These are the nine riders in the break:
Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Sebastien Grignard (Lotto-Soudal), Lindsay De Vylder (Sport Flanders-Baloise), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB), Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan), Luca Mozzato (B&B), Tom Bohli (Cofidis) and Max Kanter (Movistar).
170km to go
The peloton is spread across the road as they near the cobbles.
The Lippenhovestraat is only 1.3km long but will soon line-out the peloton.
The crowds are out in force.
Stay safe everyone!
The peloton is 4:35 as the break blasts over the cobbles.
QuickStep have positioned Kasper Asgreen up front to avoid any crashes.
Asgreen, the 2021 winner, spoke briefly at the start.
“This race is super important for the team, like all the Classics. We are well prepared, we did everything we could. We just have to enjoy it now,” the Dane said.
“No Wout van Aert doesn’t change the race for us but it does change the dynamics of the race. We’ll do many of the same things we were going to do anyway.
“I hope the legs are as good as last year, The shape is there so I hope the legs are there as well. I’m happy with where I am.”
The peloton starts the cobbled sector.
Julien Vermote is on the front for Alpecin.
The cobbles are not rough or dangerous but serve as a wake-up call for the peloton.
Tim Declercq ups the pace on a slight climb off the cobbles.
He is perhaps trying to hurt the riders behind him and keep the peloton line-out.
The riders in the peloton are now looking at each other as the pace returns steady.
The nine attackers lead by 4:30.
The team will soon climb the Oude Kwaremont, the first of the 18 Hellingen climbs.
This is the twisting route for the second half of the race.
155km to go
This is one of the last quiet moments of the race and so riders are taking off more clothing and tasking natural breaks.
We can see Mathieu van der Poel riding back into the peloton with several teammates.
The peloton passes through the key feed zone, grabbing bidons and musettes.
Stay safe everyone.
Florian Vermeersch lead the Lotto Soudal team on stage at the sign-on blowing a horn as the riders cheered.
“It’s a gesture for our sponsor Viking Lotto. We’re calling ourselves Vikings today. It was fun on the stage,” he said.
“If we have a good result today, the horn will stay in the bus as a good memory.
“There’s a good atmosphere in the team. We all want to push the extra mile for each other, so that’s really nice to see. Hopefully our luck turns and we get a nice result today. We’ll focus more on Victor Campenaerts and Tim Wellens. I’ll have a free roll. We’ll see, it’s a long race.”
This was the peloton on the cobbles.
De eerste kasseien! “Kasseien maken de koers, dan word je toch even wat meer opgewonden” #RVV22 pic.twitter.com/ITD1VSb5UcApril 3, 2022
The peloton has reached the Grote Markt in Oudenaarde. The race will finish outside the town in about three and a half hours.
The riders are about to hit the Oude Kwaremont, the first of the 18 Hellingen climbs.
The race is about to go up another level.
The race has been controlled so far but it’s about light-up.
140km to go
Here we go. The break is about to start the legendary Oude Kwaremont climb, leading the peloton by 4:30.
Ouch. The peloton is packed shoulder to shoulder, now in team formations.
Riders are jumping on the cobbled paths to move up in the peloton.
The narrow country roads of the Oude Kwaremont is packed with crowds.
Bora move up to protect Nils Politt.
QuickStep and Ineos are also there.
136km to go
The breakaways go over the Oude Kwaremont at the half-way point of the 272km race.
Crash at the back of the peloton.
Kenneth Van Rooy (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise) goes into the muddy ditch.
The peloton is near the top of the Oude Kwaremont. This will give us the first indications of form and tactics today.
Mathieu van der Poel sits protected in the peloton.
The peloton is so lined out it needs 30 seconds or so to go by. That is why position is vital in the Classics.
Now the climbs come thick and fast for the rest of the race. Next up are the Kortekeer, Achterberg, Wolvenberg and the Molenberg.
Dylan van Baarle of Ineos needs a front wheel change on his spare bike. He will lose a lot of time here.
van Baarle is chasing in the cars. A teammate will surely drop back too but he will have to make an effort to chase.
125km to go
The pace is high in the peloton. The break remains at 4:25 but the chase is on over the Kortekeer climb.
Van Baarle is back in the peloton but he is way down the back and will need help to move up to the front.
The Flemish climbs are short but they hurt more and more.
Britain’s Ben Swift leads the peloton over the Kortekeer climb. He looks steady but behind other riders are scrambling for position.
There is already a fight for position before the Achterberg climb.
It is only 1.5km long but kicks-up again between rows of fans.
120km to go
Riders are spread across the road as teams sprint for position.
Crash in the peloton!
Piet Allegaert and Tobias Johannessen go down.
The crash was caused by a movement and a touch of wheels. Piet Allegaert (Cofidis) and Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X) are up and riding again but that hurt.
This time riders have to dive into a field just before Holleweg cobbled sector.
Next up is the short but steep Wolvenberg climb.
The Ronde is an interval race. The riders sprint as if their lives depended on it before the climbs and then recover slightly on the climbs.
Two Topsport Vlaanderen riders go down.
EF and Trek are leading the peloton, as if they have a tactical plan underway.
110km to go
The 2.5km Kerkgate cobbled sector rises slightly and leads to the Jagerij climb and to the more important Molenberg race.
We’re getting closer and closer to the key climbs.
Gianni Moscon crashes as he takes off some clothes.
The gap to the break is falling. It is now 3:10.
The upcoming Molenberg is the fifth of 18 climbs.
There is a lot more racing to come.
The Molenberg is short at 400m but it is cobbled and rough.
Matteo Trentin is leading the peloton and protecting Tadej Pogacar.
Crash! Dion Smith of BikeExchange goes down.
Smith also went into the ditch as the Molenberg nears.
The break rides steady over the top of the climb as the nears it.
Jonas koch (Bora) is slightly of the front as the race heads deep into the Flemish country roads.
100km to go
As we reach a symbolic point in the 272km race, will we see an attack?
Trek and UAE are gathering on the front.
On the rough cobbles of the Molenberg, Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma) goes on the attack.
The peloton lets him go.
100 kilomètres ! pic.twitter.com/A0hKBcE0s3April 3, 2022
Van Hooydonck joins Koch.
Will anyone else try to join them as an early attack?
Puncture for Kristoff.
That’s bad timing for the former winner. But a teammate is trying to give him a wheel rather than wait for the team car.
The Norwegian sprinter is back chasing. He is fortunate the peloton is riding steady at the moment.
#RVV22 ??We’re inside 100km to go and the racing is hotting up in the peloton ?@blingmatthews is well positioned after the Molenberg ? Unfortunately @DionSmithy went down before the climb but was quickly up and going again. pic.twitter.com/bgk15sGOP7April 3, 2022
Most riders are using disc brakes at the Tour of Flanders. However Chris Froome is still not a fan of the technology.
He spoke about disc brakes in his latest video diary after suffering a problem during a long training ride. Click below to read what he said.
Chris Froome once again derides disc brakes on road bikes
Van Hooydonck and Koch are pushing on. They’ve opened a 40-second gap on the peloton as QuickStep take over setting the pace with Yves Lampaert over the top of the Berendries.
More riders attack over the top. We can see Garcia Cortina Stybar, Turner, Vermeersch and Bettiol.
Team tactics are emerging. Who will chase this group?
It’s great to see the public back out watching the race.
We have a bigger counterattack forming. This is serious.
Pedersen is there for Trek.
They will soon climb the Valkenberg climb, then the Berg Ten Houte.
There are 11 riders in the counter-attack going after Van Hooydonck and Koch.
They include: Pedersen, Kirsch, Stybar, Steimle, G.Vermeersch, Bettiol, Van Dijke, Garcia Cortina, Le Gac, Haller and Turner.
Who will chase behind?
Total Energies and UAE Team Emirates have missed the counter-attack and so are forced to chase.
These are the 11 riders in the counter-attack:
Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar), Ben Turner (Ineos), Zdenek Stybar, Jannik Steimle (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), Marco Haller, Jonas Koch (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mads Pedersen, Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Nathan Van Hooydonck, Mick Van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma)
They are 2:30 down in the early break.
The peloton is at 2:50 and so forced to chase. Bahrain is also giving a hand.
Next up is the steep 1.1km long Berg Ten Houte climb.
The race could be escaping UAE Team Emirates and Pogacar.
Crash in the peloton!
Three riders from Lotto Soudal, Magnus Sheffield of Ineos too.
Christophe Laporte is also involved.
The Frenchmen went down on his left shoulder but seems okay.
The three Lotto riders are Van Moer, Vermeersch and Beullens.
The counter-attack has swept up Van Hooydonck and Koch to create a strong 14-rider move.
The gap to the peloton remains at 20 seconds. Race on!
75km to go
UAE Team Emirates are leading the chase.
The counter-attack hits the Berg Ten Houte and Mads Pedersen kicks hard.
Behind Trentin ups the pace to try to go across to the move. Asgreen is on him.
A number of riders are also trying to come across, including Tom Pidcock.
The move is almost under control but the peloton has split under the effort.
The Kanarieberg climb is next before a short 20km reprise in climbs before the big finale.
Uffff. The peloton is struggling to close the gap on the counter-attack.
The break starts the 7.7% Kanarieberg climb.
The chasers are only 50 seconds behind them now, with the peloton ast 1:20.
Connor Swift, Kevin Geniets and Tim Wellens have jumped away from the peloton and are trying to go across to the chasers.
Pogacar and UAE did not respond. And where is Mathieu van der Poel?
65km to go
The riders can enjoy a brief break before the final loop of climbs and the ride to the finish.
We expect the groups to come together up front very soon. The big question is if the UAE-lead peloton can catch the group of counter-attackers.
It will decide the race of Pogacar and van der Poel.
Bahrain are back chasing with UAE but the gap is up to 1:00 on the strong group.
60km to go
UAE are trying to chase but the rivals teams are blocking and slowing the chase.
Finally Alpecin are starting to chase on the wide road to the foot of the Oude Kwaremont.
The gap is down to 25 seconds.
Will van der Poel and others try to go across the gap on the Oude Kwaremont?
UAE seem to be preparing the same plan for Pogacar.
Due to the high speed other riders are being spat out of the back.
Here we go! Pogacar surges!
He blasts up to the attackers and passes them on the cobbles.
Asgreen is on his wheel but everyone else is fighting on a wheel.
Only 4 riders can stay with Pogacar.
Pidcock and van der Poel are distanced but are trying to react.
The race has totally changed on the Oude Kwaremont.
Pogacar, Asgreen, Garcia Cortina, Pedersen and Turner are up front.
Van der Poel, Pidcock and Küng are trying to close the gap.
50km to go
The chasers managed to bring Pogacar’s group to heel but the Paterberg is coming soon and then the dreaded Koppenberg.
There are 30 or so riders at the front of the race.
Pidcock leads the group but now Tratnik and van der Poel are up front.
The group is splitting over the top of the Pattenberg.
We have a new front group of 12 riders or so.
Pogacar is there, so is van der Poel. Pidcock and Kung too.
Behind QuickStep are leading the chase for Asgreen.
The Asgreen group is only 20 seconds behind now. but it’s still a huge task to close it down and then go with the next attack.
On the Koppenberg and Pogacar surges again, chasing van der Poel.
Van der Poel is strong as Asgreen suffers a mechanical problem. His race is over!
van Baarle and Wright are still out front but MvdP, Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) and Pogacar are coming across.
40km to go
The trio lead the chasers by 20 seconds.
There are 20 riders in the chase group but can they pull back Pogacar and van der Poel?
Dylan van Baarle, Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) come together with 38km to go.
The Jumbo-lead chase is 40 seconds behind, with the QuickStep group at 1:00.
it’s time for the Taaienberg climb, number 15 of 18 today.
Pogacar ups the pace. He wants to distance some of the riders in his five-rider group.
35km to go
Behind Tom Pidcock and Christophe Laporte lead the chase behind. The gap is at 35 seconds.
Crash in the chase group.
The five are working together. Their lead is up to 1:00.
The chase is not organised.
Pedersen tries to up the speed but other riders follow him.
Oliver Naesen tries to chase too but other riders are sitting on the wheels.
Matthews waves his finger to call for a chase but there is little unity of intent.
? @TamauPogi is on the move. #RVV22#UAETeamEmirates #WeAreUAE pic.twitter.com/y6Bz6u6lX8April 3, 2022
30km to go
A descent offers the five a chance to eat and drink.
Next up is the 2.5km long Kruisberg/Hotond.
Something could happen here.
The road is cobbled and so needs extra effort.
There is a tactical moment in the race as the five eat a last gel.
They know that the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg are still to come.
The chasers are at 1:20 and seemed condemned to defeat today.
Will we see a Pogacar-van der Poel showdown? It looks likely.
The chase group has split but is surely too far back.
Up front are Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
The Oude Kwaremont comes with 15km, so in six kilometres time.
Benoot, Küng and Teuns are chasing at 50 seconds but have little chance of catching the five-up front. However they refuse to give in.
Oude Kwaremont hurts because it is 2.2km long and climbs gradually on the cobbles.
Pogacar is widely expected to surge here in the hope of go solo and then time trialing to victory.
Can he act out the perfect script?
This was Pogacar’ last surge on the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.
As soon as the cobbles start, Pogacar ups the pace.
Wow. Van Baarle is distanced. Wright is gapped too.
Madouas is also struggling.
We have the dream scenario: Pogacar – v – van der Poel.
Pogacar is trying to burn van der Poel off his wheel. But the Dutchman holds on over the top of the Oude Kwaremont.
The chase has exploded too but they surely have little chance of victory. A podium spot could be up for grabs.
MvdP takes a turn as he and Pogacar enjoy a tailwind to the final climb of the day, the Paterberg.
Get ready for a Pogacar attack on the Paterberg!
Pogacar takes a drink and tries to take a breath as the road descends.
Here we go!
Pogacar goes back to the front and turns up the speed.
Van der Poel is struggling to turn a big gear.
There’s a gap!
But no, MvdP holds Pogacar’s wheel.
Van Baarle catches Madouas in the fight for third place.
Everyone else is spread across the Paterberg and the Flemish fields.
Madouas and van Baarle are 30 seconds down on Pogacar and van der Poel.
10km to go
Teuns, Kung and Wright form the third chase group at 1:00.
For now Pogacar and van der Poel are swapping turns as they ride to the finish in Oudenaarde.
7km to go
This finish is impossible to call.
In theory van der Poel is fastest but we said that last year and he lost to Kasper Asgreen.
Pogacar is no slouch in a sprint and could be fresher today. But can he beat van der Poel in a shoulder to shoulder sprint?
The two look equally strong and equally as fresh.
5km to go
Rain is starting to fall. Will that change the sprint finish?
Pogacar and van der Poel still lead by 30 seconds.
This is a mind game as much as a physical game as the kilometres tick down.
The two enter the green zone and so dump their bidons and gels.
#RVVmen – ? 3 kmReady for a sprint-a-deux? ? #RVV22 pic.twitter.com/nE9vSUbXkhApril 3, 2022
2.5km to go
This is nerve wracking.
Whatever happens and whoever wins, we will continue our live coverage after the finish, with rider reaction, photographs and analysis.
1km to go
Here we go!
Pogacar and van der Poel are playing games.
will they be caught??
Mathieu van der Poel wins it!
Incredible. As Pogacar and MvdP watched each other and played games, the chasers caught them with 250m to go.
Yet van der Poel still had the speed to win the sprint.
Pogacar was angry and rides off from the finish area.
He made a mistake by playing games. He got boxed in during the sprint and could only finish 4th.
Wow. What an incredible finale.
Pogacar blew his chance by not working to ensure he and van der Poel stayed away.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|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|
|6||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious|
|7||Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious|
|8||Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo|
It’s an incredible victory for Mathieu van der Poel. He was suffering with a back problem in the early season but managed to recover and find some form.
Dylan van Baarle dug deep to get second, with Valentin Madouas taking third.
Stefan Kung brought home the other chasers to take fifth at just 2 seconds.
Here’s the race winning shot.
Van der Poel hugged his partner beyond the finish, happy but in shock to have won after defeat in 2021.
“It’s incredible. I worked so hard for this one,” he said.
At first it wasn’t even sure if I would get to the Classics and to win is incredible,” he added, explaining his race.
“The Kwaremont and Paterberg I was just trying to hold the wheel of Tadej. He was really strong up there especially the Paterberg was really on the limit for me. Then I had a few kms to get the legs back turning and focus on the sprint.”
Pogacar was angry to be boxed in the sprint and even raised his arm in anger.
He could have won the Tour of Flanders but finishes off the podium.
This is the dramatic Tour of Flanders finish.
?? #RVV22What a thrilling finale that was! ??? @sporzapic.twitter.com/Ols2buvjIjApril 3, 2022
This show the moment when van der Poel opened up his sprint.
He held his line as van Baarle managed to come past Madouas, while Pogacar sat up angry about his finish.
Here’s the moment van der Poel starts to celebrate.
We managed to capture Tadej Pogacar’s thoughts post race.
“All in all it was a great experience. It was a really amazing race. The team was super and perfect. We lit it up in the end, me alone with Mathieu and the atmosphere on the climbs was incredible,” he said.
“In the first moment I was really disappointed because I couldn’t do my sprint. I was boxed in. but that’s cycling.
“Some time you’re boxed in and sometimes you have own road. I was not even mad about it to anyone. It might have seemed that way but I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t do the last 100 metre to the finish.
“I like the Oude Kwaremont. The atmosphere gives you goosebumps. I love this race.”
Pogacar revealed he raced without power data but shrugged off that it was a problem
“I crashed 20km after the start,” he said.
“I lost my SRM head unit and so was really on my radio with sports director Fabio Baldato. It was perhaps even better racing without the numbers and not so nervous.
“It wouldn’t have changed anything, here you just need to go full gas on the climbs.”
Pogacar attacked his rivals on the Oude Kwaremont climb, splitting the front group the first time and then trying to crack van der Poel the second time.
“We saw that there was a tailwind on the Oude Kwaremont and we said that I needed to go there on the second last or last time, to try my best. It’s a difficult climb, one of the longest secotes and so it was good for me,” he explained.
“He came next to me and so I tried to accelerate but there wasn’t enough in my legs to drop him. He was on fire today, really good. We were more or less the same on the climbs. I tried to beat him in the sprint but it wasn’t my day.”
This is the crazy sprint finish.
#RVVmenWHAT A RACE! ? @mathieuvdpoel wins Flanders’ Finest after an amazing finale! @DylanvanBaarle ?and @MadouasValentin ? join him on the podium. #RVV22 pic.twitter.com/hCp76KVyBgApril 3, 2022
The women’s race has also ended and we will soon have a joint men’s and women’s podium.
Click here to read our report on the women’s race.
We have more photos from the men’s race.
Click the link below to read our full race report and see our growing photo gallery.
Van der Poel tops Van Baarle in a Tour of Flanders thriller
A huge crowd gathers for the podium ceremony.
It was great to see the huge crowds back out on the course today.
This was another view of the crowds.
After a hectic final kilometre at the Tour of Flanders, Mathieu van der Poel came out on top for the second time in three years having played a perfect tactical game on the run to the line in Oudenaarde.
Click below to read our initial MvdP reaction story.
Van der Poel: It was a bit of a shock to see Tour of Flanders final play out like that
The disappointment of Tadej Pogačar was plain to see at the finish of the Tour of Flanders, with the Slovenian throwing his arms in the air as he crossed the line in fourth place despite racing to the finish in a two-man lead group.
Click below to read his post-race reaction.
Tadej Pogacar: I think I love the Tour of Flanders
This is what Mathieu van der poel wanted: the winner’s trophy.
We have some great podium photos.
Here the men prepare to spray the champagne.
The winner takes centre stage.
The 2022 Tour of Flanders podium (l-r): Dylan van Baarle, Mathieu van der Poel and Valentin Madouas
Mathieu van der Poel and Lotte Kopecky on the podium.
To read out full live coverage from the women’s race, click below.
Tour of Flanders Women – Live Coverage
To read our full race report, see our 50+ photo gallery and for full results, click below.
Van der Poel tops Van Baarle in a Tour of Flanders thriller
Thanks for joining us for our full live coverage. Our reporters in Belgium Patrick Fletcher and Barry Ryan will bring more news from the race in the next few hours and on Monday.
We’ll be back with full live coverage from next week’s Amstel Gold Race and then of course for Paris-Roubaix.
Thanks again for joining us for our full live coverage.