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In a class of his own: Mathieu van der Poel © APA/afp / DAVID PINTENS

Third Flanders victory for world champion Van der Poel

World champion Mathieu van der Poel has impressively confirmed his position as favorite for the Tour of Flanders.

The Dutchman won the spring classic in Belgium on Sunday for the third time after 2020 and 2022. The 29-year-old from the Alpecin team broke away from his pursuers, most of whom were forced to push, with 45 km to go on the cobblestones of the Koppenberg, which were particularly slippery due to the rain and achieved a dominant victory.

Van der Poel won the 108th edition of the Ronde, which was made even worse by rain in the last third, after 271 km from Antwerp to Oudenaarde, 1:02 minutes ahead of surprise man Luca Mozzato (Arkea). The Italian won the pursuit sprint ahead of the Australian Michael Matthews (Jayco). Last year's winner Tadej Pogacar was not at the start. Van der Poel's Belgian arch-rival Wout van Aert was injured after his serious crash on Wednesday at Across Flanders.


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