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Van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders, Alaphilippe crashes into motorbike

Van der Poel (left) and Van Aert battling for honours in Flanders
Van der Poel (left) and Van Aert battling for honours in Flanders ERIC LALMAND BELGA/AFP
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Oudenaarde (Belgium) (AFP)

Mathieu van der Poel took the Tour of Flanders on Sunday for his first win in one of cycling's Monuments after a race marked by world champion Julian Alaphilippe's heavy fall after colliding with a motorbike.

Van der Poel had slipped away from the peloton with his great rival Wout van Aert and Alaphilippe in a powerful three-man breakaway.

After the French rider's accident the duo were left to fight out the finish, with Dutch star van der Poel emerging the winner in Audenarde 34 years after his father Adrie's name was added to the celebrated race's roll of honour, although the traditional spring classic was held in an unfamiliar slot in the cycling calender due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alaphilippe continued his recent mercurial results which include victory in the world championship but also blowing a seemingly certain victory in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

When the French rider broke away from the pack 40kms from the finish only van der Poel went with him, van Aert missing the move and had to use vital energy catching the two leaders on the cobblestones of Taaienberg.

That effort coming after a fall 100km out may have taken its toll in the thrilling wheel to wheel sprint for the line.

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