Tadej Pogačar (right) and Mathieu van der Poel in the closing kilometres of the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Gallery: A clash of the titans at the men’s Tour of Flanders

by Matt de Neef

photography by Gruber Images and Kristof Ramon

The Tour of Flanders isn’t a race you tend to do well at on your first attempt. The race isn’t just super hard – it’s also a race where, perhaps more than any other event on the calendar, good positioning is vital. If you’re not near the front in the crucial moments, you can wave goodbye to your chances of a good result.

In his Flanders debut on Sunday Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) proved the exception to the rule, riding his way to a fourth place that should have been second, at least. He didn’t seem to struggle with positioning throughout the day, and on the crucial climbs he was the one setting the pace. It’s hard to get dropped if you’re the one dropping everyone else.

Pogačar’s final sprint could have been better, but even with the best, most strategic sprint of his career, it’s not clear he would have beaten Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). Still, fourth at De Ronde on debut? You’d have to think Pogačar will win this race at some point. As much winning as he’s done in his career already, let’s remember he’s still only 23. There’s plenty more to come.

For now, let’s take a look back at Sunday’s wonderful men’s Tour of Flanders with these photos from Jered and Ashley Gruber, and Kristof Ramon.

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