'It's one of the hardest races I've ever done' - Mathieu van der Poel on his historic Tour of Flanders victory

World champion becomes seventh man in history to win the race three times

Mathieu van der poel with his bike in the air
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The scene on the Koppenberg was mayhem, riders strewn across the narrow hill, both feet on the floor, slipping on its rain-soaked cobbles. They gripped their bikes and pushed in a panic. The race was getting away from them. With 45km to go, this was the decisive moment. 

Ahead, the blur of the world champion’s rainbow bands grew fainter and smaller. His number one dossard, too. Where mortals were forced to walk, Mathieu van der Poel flew. The Dutchman, born on Belgian soil, vanished over the crest of the climb, not to be seen again until the podium ceremony over an hour later. 

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1