Cycling-Pogacar secures third Monument title with Flanders win

  • Cycling
  • Sunday, 02 Apr 2023

(Reuters) - Tadej Pogacar claimed his third Monument classic after a brutal attack on the Old Quaremont hill helped him win the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

The 24-year-old Slovenian became the third Tour de France winner to prevail in the "Ronde" after France's Louison Bobet and Belgian great Eddy Merckx.

Pogacar, who won the Tour in 2020 and 2021, has won two other Monument classics, Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2021 and the Giro di Lombardia in 2021 and 2022.

Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel took second place, missing out on a third title after his 2020 and 2022 triumphs, two weeks after winning the first Monument of the season, Milan-Sanremo.

Dane Mads Pederson finished third.

Pogacar powered away from a pack chasing Pedersen in the Old Quaremont some 17km from the finish, caught and dropped the former champion and never looked back.

Van der Poel hung on for dear life but could not follow Pogacar and quickly realised he would need to settle for second.

Pedersen then won a seven-man sprint for third place after 273.4 kilometres, with Belgian Wout van Aert, another top pre-race favourite with Van der Poel and Pogacar, ending up fourth.

"It was amazing, it's a day I'll never forget," said Pogacar.

"I knew I had to go solo in the Quaremont to have a chance to win and that's what I did although I was at the limit before. I could retire after today and would be proud of my career."

Still missing from his Monument collection are Milan-Sanremo, where he finished fifth in 2022 and fourth this year, and Paris-Roubaix, which he has never raced.

"I need to gain a few kilos for Paris-Roubaix," he said, in reference to the Queen of the Classics, which features several cobbled sections and favours the heavyweights.

Paris-Roubaix will take place next Sunday.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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