Cycling Royalty Compete In 107th Tour Of Flanders
It’s not the Tour de France, but another “Classic” bicycle race will get underway on Sunday. The 107th Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) is the second monument of the season. It is well known for its steep cobblestone sections and takes place in Belgium. The race goes from Bruges to Oudenaarde and spans 272.5 kilometers (169.3 miles).
The first 100 kilometers of racing is like a Sunday afternoon stroll, and then the intensity quickly ratchets up. It is not enough with the cobbles, but some inclines kick up as high as 10%. That seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
At gambling.com, we take a quick look ahead at this Classic, which could play out as a nice battle between three cycling kings - Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert, and Tadej Pogacar.
The Big Three
Giving Tadej Pogacar time to prepare for something like the Tour Of Flanders is dangerous, but remember the talents of van der Poel and Van Aert. The last time these three got together involved some spectacular racing. At Milan-San Remo, van der Poel pulled away and got ahead of Pogacar and Van Aert. The Dutch rider won the opening classic by 15 seconds.
The fun thing with this race is how much Pogacar is learning and how much Wout Van Aert has in the tank for this race. Remember, Christophe Laporte is one of the fiercest domestiques for a monument of this caliber.
Now, this race comes at an intriguing time for riders. The following week is Paris-Roublaix on Easter. Some riders skipped this event for that one.
To be blunt, judging who has their best form is a challenging feat.
A Preview of Key Flanders Pivot Points
Although the first cobbled climb is significant, this race picks up steam. Oude Kwaremont enters the picture at just about halfway. Its 103m total elevation gain is nasty, with a 10% kicker on a 4.8% average gradient. Did I mention the riders do this three times, with the final ascent coming with about 20 kilometers to go?
Riders will have their legs softened to mush between these ascents and a total of 19 cobbled climbs (hellingen). The shorter Patenberg awaits (once at 51 km to go and then again with 13 km left). It is that finale that has a nasty 20% punch or two. This could also be where the decisive move takes place.
The good news is the flat run-in to the iconic finish in Oudenaarde is still there. It will be interesting to see who survives or if one rider is left.
Tour Of Flanders Race Odds
Mathieu van der Poel +275
Wout Van Aert +330
Tadej Pogacar +350
Dylan Van Baarle +1400
Christophe Laporte +1800
Kasper Asgreen +2200
Tom Pidcock +2800
Yes, this classic typically takes over six hours to complete. Could riders like Tom Pidcock or Matej Mohoric make this far more interesting than anyone expects? At +2800, they are long shots but can win a monument like this if teams get caught fooling around too much.
More than likely, this comes down to the riders on the top of our board. It becomes picking the right one.
Again, anything is possible, as van der Poel has won this twice (2020, 2022). Asgreen pulled off a shocker in 2021
Either way, this expects to be a defining stage, despite its shorter distance.
The race begins at 4:00 AM EDT on Sunday and ends before 10:30 AM EDT in North America.
Final Words and Predictions
This day race is another fight between the big three and maybe a Pidcock, Asgreen, or Mohoric. Some want to focus on Dylan Van Baarle, but the pressure may get to him. At +1400, his number is solid, but his form is not quite there. It is a race for van der Poel to win unless he falters on the two climbs at the end. Then, all bets may be off, especially if Pogacar or Van Aert have the legs.
Again, van der Poel at +275 is our best bet, with Pidcock as our +2800 long shot.
Get an early breakfast and follow us on Twitter for live updates and additional wagers. Thanks again for reading!
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