The Flying Dutchman Is Aiming for a Second Tour of Flanders Triumph


The Flying Dutchman Is Aiming for a Second Tour of Flanders Triumph

As one of the most prestigious and popular road cycling events on the UCI World Tour, the Tour of Flanders is today considered one of the five classic Monuments of Cycling. Held consistently since 1913 and only interrupted by World War I, this magnificent event in the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium will next be held on Sunday, April 4.

The five Monuments are famed as being the most difficult and challenging one-day races to win. After the Milan-San Remo in Italy opens the calendar for this quintet of classic races in late March, the Tour of Flanders is first amongst the ‘Cobbled Classics’, usually held on the first Sunday of April each year. Paris-Roubaix in France and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are also held in April, followed by the Giro di Lombardia autumn classic.

Mathieu van der Poel Tipped to Dominate

Known by his nickname of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ amongst fans of professional road racing, cyclo-cross and mountain biking, multi-disciplined rider Mathieu van der Poel is tipped as the early 5/2 cycling betting favorite for 2021 Tour of Flanders. Having won this classic race last year, he became the first victor hailing from the Netherlands since 1986 when, coincidentally, the race was won by his father Adrie van der Poel.

The uneven road surfaces and the cobbled lanes and streets are a prominent feature in the Tour of Flanders are navigated beautifully van der Poel junior. But it’s the exceptional cyclo-cross record of Mathieu van der Poel that makes him so ideally suited to this particular event. In this discipline, he is the winner of six consecutive Dutch National Championships, three European Championships, and four World Championship titles.

Belgian Ace Is up for the Challenge Again

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara was the last competitor to achieve consecutive Tour of Flanders victories, doing so in 2013 and 2014, which perhaps underlines the singular difficulty of this one-day race. That will be the objective for Mathieu van der Poel, and while he is the clear favorite, he will face some very stiff competition.

Amongst the strongest challengers will be Wout van Aert of Belgium, who is widely considered a specialist when it comes to the classics. His first Monuments triumph came at the Milan-San Remo in 2020, quickly followed by another win at the Strade Bianche classic. Last year he finished second in Tour of Flanders, which means he will undoubtedly be aiming to go one better this time around.

Competitive Peloton of Renowned Cyclists

Over the years, cyclists from the Benelux countries have traditionally fared better at the Tour of Flanders. Nevertheless, riders from other European countries have increasingly risen to the challenge in the last couple of decades. 2016 winner Peter Sagan from Slovenia will be competing, aiming to conquer the famous race once again.

Julian Alaphilippe of France will be eager to achieve the second Monument victory of his career, having won the 2019 Milan-San Remo. Unfortunately, he crashed out of the 2020 Tour of Flanders after colliding with a support motorbike, just as he was making a move to lead the race. Should fortune smile a little more favorably this year, he will be amongst the genuine challengers leading the peloton.