Race Report: Kasper Asgreen won the 105th edition of the Tour of Flanders. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step Dane surprisingly beat defending champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in the final sprint – Man-against-man. Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) was third.
Kasper Asgeen’s Classic season
The great Dane covered all the moves and when his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammate, World champion Julian Alaphilippe faltered, he was on the wheel of last year’s winner, Mathieu van der Poel. In the long sprint, Asgreen was too strong for the Dutch champion.
Peace before the battle
The lead group of the day first included Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces), Fabio Van den Bossche (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Jelle Wallays (Cofidis) and Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar), they escaped after 10 kilometres. Nico Denz (DSM) and Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech) then crossed to them. The seven pushed on for a lead of 12 minutes.
Yes, windmills in Belgium
Maarten Wynants last race
Otto Vergaerde and Yevgeniy Fedorov were thrown off the race by the race jury after an argument, where they tried to ride each other off the road. In the peloton, Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck – Quick-Step set the pace, but it took a long time before they made any difference to the lead. The first time up the Oude Kwaremont, 130 kilometres from the finish, the difference was less than 10 minutes.
The break of five
Then they were seven
Michael Schär was also on a bad day, he had just returned to the peloton after a second (or possibly third) bike change, when threw a water bottle to fans and was disqualified. When the race hit the hills the teams of the favourites started to showed themselves at the front. Deceuninck – Quick-Step (Elegant – Quick-Step), put the presure on the Molenberg. Kevin Geniets accelerated on the Berendries, followed by a number of the big names, but that escape attempt didn’t last long.
Vergaerde and Fedorov out
Not a bad day in Flanders
Just under 80 kilometres from the finish, the lead of the front riders dropped to 3 minutes due to work by Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Alpecin-Fenix. Søren Kragh Andersen then put in an attack on the Kanarieberg, but it was soon defused. The nervousness caused a massive crash, involving Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Alexander Kristoff, Michael Matthews and Oliver Naesen, with quite a few others. Mathieu van der Poel was able to escape, although the peloton was held back for a while.
The cobbles came soon enough
Van Avermaet had been at the back of the peloton, but moved forward
Bissegger pulled the leading group apart on the Kwaremont, while in the chase group, Yves Lampaert used the climb to attack. It prompted a response from Van der Poel and Asgreen, who were pulled in by Van Aert. On the Paterberg Van der Poel and Asgreen showed they were the strongest, again it was Van Aert who had to chase. A dangerous move followed: Tom Pidcock, Marco Haller, Alaphilippe, Tim Wellens, Florian Sénéchal and Christophe Laporte jumped away in the run-up to the Koppenberg.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step in control
Crash for Stefan Küng
A solo Bissegger had 25 seconds on the Alaphilippe group at the Koppenberg, then the World champion attacked. At the top he caught Bissegger, but a group with Van der Poel, Van Aert, Turgis, Pidcock, Laporte, Wellens and Haller managed to close the gap. The strong Austrian went for a solo on the Steenbeekdries, after which he was caught on the Taaienberg by Van der Poel, Van Aert, Asgreen, Alaphilippe and Dylan Teuns.
Crash in the peloton also
The six took 15 seconds on the chase group, where there was good co-operation. The Kruisberg seemed to be the end of Haller for a while, but he fought back. Behind; Turgis managed to make the crossing on his own after the climb. An Asgreen attack could only be followed by Van der Poel at 25 kilometers from the finish, as Alaphilippe defended the attack of his Danish teammate.
Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) was well to the fore
The group of beaten favourites, including Van Avermaet, Van Baarle, Stuyven, Laporte, Benoot and Vanmarcke, reduced a gap of 40 seconds to 25. On the Oude Kwaremont, 19 kilometres from the finish, they caught Alaphilippe and co. At the front there was no attack on the Kwaremont, but after, Van der Poel put in a strong move. He dropped Asgreen and Van Aert, although the Danish champion was able to catch him going towards the Paterberg. Van Aert looked beaten, but didn’t give up.
The World champ was looking good, but…
Van der Poel and Asgreen were together on the last climb of the day, the Paterberg at 13 kilometres from the finish. Side by side they rode up next to each other. Van Aert followed at 19 seconds, but dropped into the group of pursuers in the flat final towards Oudenaarde. At 10 kilometres to the finish, the difference was still 30 seconds, but the co-operation was not great.
Maybe not Wout’s day
Van der Poel didn’t look to tired
The difference between Van der Poel and Asgreen and the chasing group of Van Avermaet, Van Baarle, Turgis, Van Aert, Laporte, Vanmarcke, Benoot, Stuyven, Vermeersch and Sénéchal kept fluctuating between 20 and 25 seconds. In the last 5 kilometres the power went from the chase partly due to interference from Vermeersch. Van Avermaet and Stuyven counter-attacked.
The winning break?
Wout in trouble
Defending champion Van der Poel went into the last kilometre in the lead. Asgreen took his wheel and played poker for the sprint. Van der Poel went at more than 200 metres and looked to be heading for the win and a Flanders two in a row, but was beaten by a very strong Asgreen. Behind; Van Avermaet finished third ahead of Stuyven.
2021 Flanders winner, Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “This has become an incredible classic campaign. The plan was to wait until the hilly zones. We started attacking from the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. The boys did a great job. I also want to thank sports director Tom (Steels) Wilfried (Peeters). I felt very good in the last kilometre. I decided to rely on my sprint. When I started the last kilometre I realized that we still had a 30 second lead. Van der Poel was in front of me so I could decide when to start the sprint. This victory is great.”
Big win No.2 for Kasper Asgreen
2nd, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I would have liked to succeed myself. I can accept it because he was just stronger. A sprint after 260 kilometres is not the same as a sprint after 200 kilometres. It was sprinting to my limit. The cobblestone climbs suit me very well. They’re in the saddle, but Asgreen was able to follow my attacks every time. So we realised pretty quickly that we were going to need each other. Asgreen is certainly the deserved winner. He also made a point of riding to the finish together. That says enough. He felt good. I certainly didn’t think it was over. In the sprint I could turn it on for five seconds, then that was it. He is someone who dares to set a race and dares to continue to the finish, I like that.”
Tour of Flanders Result:
1. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 6:02.12
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 0:32
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:32
5. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:47
6. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
7. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers
11. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
12. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) DSM at 0:49
13. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Qhubeka Assos at 2:15
14. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BORA-ansgrohe
15. Peter Sagan (Svk) BORA-hansgrohe
16. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
17. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
18. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
19. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
20. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
21. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange
22. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
23. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar
24. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
25. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
26. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
27. Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka Assos
28. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
29. Clément Russo (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
30. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal.