Pogacar shines in men, Kopecky triumphs in women


At 24, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar won his first Tour of Flanders on Sunday. A few hours later, Belgian Lotte Kopecky, 27, won the women’s edition of the race.

Tadej Pogacar entered a little more into the legend of cycling on Sunday April 2 by removing with art and manner his first Tour of Flanders, the fourth Monument of his career, at only 24 years old.

On the attack from start to finish, the Slovenian became only the third rider in history – more than a century old in his sport – to have won both the Tour de France (twice) and the “Ronde “, joining in this very closed club the Frenchman Louison Bobet and the Belgian Eddy Merckx.

And he did it by taking care of the show, as often, by flying away on the last ascent of Vieux Quaremont, 17 kilometers from the finish, to cross the finish line alone, sixteen seconds ahead of the outgoing winner , Mathieu van der Poel.

A sign of the implacable domination of the Slovenian rocket, the Dutchman, also crowned in 2020 on the Ronde, declared, as an absolute tribute: “It was perhaps my best Tour of Flanders. But I came across a unbeatable guy.”

“It’s a day that I will never forget. I could retire now and look back on my career with pride”, commented, for his part, the facetious “Pogi” who pushed back with a polite hand, but firm, the tray of fries offered to him as soon as he crossed the finish line.

Take “a few pounds first”

The other big favourite, the Belgian Wout Van Aert, had just passed it, in a disappointing fourth place, almost a minute and a half later, beaten by the Dane Mads Pedersen who settled the small chasing group in the sprint.

Tadej Pogacar knew he had to start alone to avoid the same mishap as last year when, for his first participation and after having already shown himself to be the strongest, he was dominated in the sprint by Mathieu Van der Poel, even leaving Dylan van Baarle and Valentin Madouas skip it over the line.

On Sunday, he ran to perfection, tormenting his opponents in each of the mountains, before knocking out the competition definitively on the slippery cobblestones of Old Kwaremont and Paterberg, to spin alone towards the finish.

His success, his tenth already this season in just sixteen days of racing, puts him even further into the category of superstars in his sport.

Double winner of the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, he now has four Monuments in his musette – more than any other active rider – by adding to the Round of Sunday his victories in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2021 and the Tour of Lombardy in 2021 and 2022.

Of the five biggest classics on the calendar, he only has Milan-Sanremo left, where he finished fourth a month ago, and Paris-Roubaix to conquer. Only one man managed to win the five Monuments and the Tour de France: Eddy Merckx.

“Sanremo is the hardest race to go for. This year, I was in great shape but I’m not going to give up. Roubaix? We’ll see if I’ll try one day but I’ll have to put on a few kilos of weight. first”, joked the Slovenian who does not rule out discovering the “queen of the classics” in the years to come, but not next weekend.

Falls of several runners

On Sunday, he won at the end of a very lively race, marked by numerous falls and disputed at a crazy pace, the fastest in history (44.1 km / h), in the gray and cold. , in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators.

One gadin in particular sowed chaos in the peloton when the Polish Filip Maciejuk, trying to get back to the top positions, slipped in the wet grass on the low side to come and make a “strike” which mowed down about forty riders .

The bowling game forced several runners to retire, including Peter Sagan and Tim Wellens, Pogacar’s lieutenant at UAE, who suffered a broken collarbone. The sanction quickly fell for Flip Maciejuk, disqualified by the commissioners.

Lotte Kopecky wins her second Tour of Flanders

Among the women, the Belgian Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), already victorious in 2022, won her second Tour of Flanders on Sunday by winning solo in Oudenaarde.

Lotte Kopecky, 27, was 36 seconds ahead of a group of six, settled in the sprint by her Dutch teammate Demi Vollering, second, ahead of the Italian Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo).

In the little game of favorites, “everyone was giving me five stars on social networks and so I was under pressure”, commented the Flemish who dropped the Italian Silvia Persico in Old Kwaremont 16 kilometers from the finish. . “It’s incredible how we ran with the team, we’re having a superb season,” she added.

In fact, the success of Lotte Kopecky confirms the domination of her Dutch team SD Worx with now nine victories already in 2023.

Since the start of the season, Lotte Kopecky had already won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, while her Swiss teammate Marlen Reusser won on Ghent-Wevelgem and Demi Vollering on Through Flanders.

The Dutch Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), who was aiming for a historic third victory on the “Ronde”, was involved in a fall which prevented her from playing the leading roles. The Frenchwoman Juliette Labous (DSM) finished sixth.

With AFP

John Wick: Chapter 4 (FREE) FULLMOVIE The Super Mario Bros Movie avatar 2 Where To Watch Creed 3 Free At Home Knock at the Cabin (2023) FullMovie Where To Watch Ant-Man 3 and the Wasp: Quantumania Cocaine Bear 2023 (FullMovie) Scream 6 Full Movie