Van der Poel wins in Flanders after destroying his rivals at the Koppenberg | Cycling | Sports

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The champion speaks: “The Koppenberg was ridiculously hard.” And Matthieu Van der Poel is not exaggerating. Only his great skills as a cyclocrosser kept him on the bicycle while behind him a massacre unfolded that he could not witness because he had enough to maintain his balance, look ahead and kick the pedals.

With 45 kilometers to go, in the place that all cyclists fear, and that fans who attend the Tour of Flanders, universal heritage of Belgian cycling, adore, Iván García Cortina began to climb among the sharp cobblestones with a handful of seconds ahead. . The Movistar runner had been visible enough, he held his own among the greats and took the lead up the hill where the cobblestones dictate the sentence. He continued halfway up the slope; But the development did not give him much more. On the verge of falling, he got off the bike and tried to pedal again, a vain attempt with the wheels slipping, and from slip to slip with the heels of his shoes.

Behind him, the world champion was already in the lead, powerful in his pedal strokes, cautious in his attitude towards the slippery terrain and skilled when his bicycle crossed his path. Only Van der Poel and two others, Jorgenson and Pedersen, reached the top of the Koppenberg riding their machine. The rest went up pushing their bicycles, as if instead of cobblestones there were a flight of stairs.

There began the escabechina, the beginning of the end for the race, because Van der Poel’s minimum difference increased during the remaining 45 kilometers. It was ridiculously hard, said the champion, but the others accused him more, among them, the Spaniards García Cortina and Oier Lazkano, both always in the lead until the fateful moment. We learn from experiences like those in Flanders, which push our forces to the limit. The Koppenberg finished them off, although the old Kwaremont, or the Paterberg, or the Mareborrestraat crushed their bodies. Also to Van der Poel, of course: “I arrived with an empty tank”, but the Dutch champion knows how to handle himself better than anyone. That is why he has won the flamenco monument for the third time; That is why he joins the restricted list of world champions who won wearing the rainbow jersey. The previous one was Sagan.

He had behaved like one of them until the Koppenberg, responding to attacks like those of the brave Lazkano, or calming his impulses when Pedersen wasted energy in a two-man adventure with Vermeersch, still very far from the goal, but at that distance of 45 kilometers, heavenly for the common cyclist, he was the most skillful, the most determined and the strongest when he touched, and reached the finish line more than a minute ahead of Luca Mozzato. Polit was third due to the disqualification of Michael Matthews.

In the women’s event, favorite Lotte Kopecky could only finish fifth in a race won by Elisa Longo-Borghini, who reached the finish line alongside Kasia Niewiadoma, who was second, and her teammate Shirin van Anrooij. The three of them took advantage on the descent of the Paterberg.

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