Van der Poel, Alaphilippe, Deceuninck-QuickStep falter ahead of Flanders

It was a tough day out on the cobbled roads of Dwars door Vlaanderen for the top cobble race contenders as the build-up to the Tour of Flanders showed that a number of stars will need to come up to be in with a shot for the victory.

75th Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2021 - Men's Elite

Mathieu Van Der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix during the 75th Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2021 Source: Getty

SBS will broadcast the men's Tour of Flanders from start to finish with the early stages of the cobbled monument starting from 1755 AEST on SBS On Demand and the TV broadcast on SBS VICELAND joining the SBS VICELAND coverage from 2030. The women's Tour of Flanders race coverage will start at the conclusion of the men's, with an expected start time of 0015 AEST on SBS VICELAND and SBS On Demand.

When the pace was hot in Dwars door Vlaanderen, it was expected that it would be the likes of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) or one of the host of Deceuninck-QuickStep riders - including world champion Julian Alaphilippe - that would be forcing the action.

That wouldn't eventuate, with van der Poel not able to go with the leaders on the Taaienberg, with Alaphilippe and the majority of the Deceuninck-QuickStep team held up by Viviani's crash on the run-in to the climb with only Florian Senechal a player in the subsequent series of breakaways.

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Alaphilippe did try a surge later and van der Poel returned to the front of the race to drive the pace for his team's sprinter Tim Merlier, helping catch the second group on the road which allowed Merlier to sprint to a place on the podium. Van der Poel meanwhile, blew up after entirely emptying himself in the chase and trailed the main bunch into the finish.



 

Yves Lampaert sprinted to fourth to salvage some respectability on the results sheet for Deceuninck-QuickStep, but the masters of the classics were well short of their customary dominance of the 'hellingen'. Alaphilippe was asked after the race if the heat, a surprisingly warm 24 Degrees, had affected the race.   

“We did feel the heat,” Alaphlippe said in a post-race interview with L'Équipe. “I tried to help the team as best I could. We had Florian Sénéchal at the front, but when I started on one of the slopes, I wasn't sure what the situation was.”

Alaphilippe hasn't raced since Milan-San Remo, the world champion taking time off to allow him to fully recover after a hard set of races in Italy from Strade Bianche through Tirreno-Adriatico to the Italian monument.

“I wanted to know how I had recovered from the Italian races, which really exhausted me," said Alaphilippe. "When I started training again, the stimuli weren't great. That's why I drove without stress and pressure.

"All in all it was ok. I enjoyed myself even though I didn't end up riding a top place. On Sunday I hope for a better feeling in the Tour of Flanders.”

Van der Poel put his showing down to poor legs, particularly on a key section of the Knoketeberg where he dropped right away from the front of the race.

"I blocked completely there,” van der Poel said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “It wasn't going well before that either. I was on the limit for a while. I had already told my teammates and the team management that today would not be my day.

"I certainly didn't play hide and seek or comedy. I have never done that. I would have preferred to race to win, but that was just not possible with my legs."

After the Knoketeberg, Van der Poel settled back into the main bunch and even kept pulling as Alpecin-Fenix changed their focus and looked to bring things back for a sprint with Merlier. Although Van Baarle stayed away, van der Poel helped drag the peloton level with the chasing group, and almost stopped once the catch had been made, crossing the line alone a minute and 41 seconds behind the winner.

"Fortunately, I managed to close the gap to the chasing group and the peloton for Tim. He eventually sprinted to third place and that is a positive point," Van der Poel said.



Van der Poel dismissed the aspect of the heat playing its part in his comparative poor form and said that he was still optimistic of performing well at the Tour of Flanders.

"Was it the heat? I ate and drank enough in the race," said van der Poel. "I didn't find my legs. By the way, Alaphilippe also told me in the race that he was not feeling very well. I couldn't go deep all day.

“I can deal with this. It has happened to me before. I expect a different race on Sunday, and I hope to be very good on Sunday."

SBS will broadcast the men's race from start to finish with the early stages of the cobbled monument starting from 1755 AEST on SBS On Demand and the TV broadcast on SBS VICELAND joining the SBS VICELAND coverage from 2030. The women's race coverage will start at the conclusion of the men's, with an expected start time of 0015 AEST on SBS VICELAND and SBS On Demand.


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5 min read
Published 1 April 2021 at 11:28am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS