Tadej Pogacar became only the third cyclist to win both Tour de France and Tour of Flanders after Louison Bobet and Eddy Merckx.
The 24-year-old Slovenian clinched victory with a superb solo attack to add Flanders — one of the five “monument races” in one-day cycling — to his glittering list of wins.
“I can say that I can retire after today and I can be proud of my career,” Pogacar said, smiling. “I can be super happy and proud.”
Pogacar dropped Mathieu van der Poel about 18 kilometers from the end of the 273.4-kilometer trek from Bruges to Oudenarde and beat him by 16 seconds. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) was third, ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in fourth spot — both 1:12 behind Pogacar.
“With the speed on the cobbles I was already suffering,” said Pogacar.
Sunday’s victory was his third monument win, after winning Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 2021 and Lombardia for the past two years. The two he has yet to win are Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix.
“Sanremo is the most difficult one (of the five monuments), I arrived there in good shape this year,” said Pogacar.
He is uncertain whether he is bulky enough to take on Roubaix, which is known as “L’Enfer du Nord”.
“I think I need to gain a few kilos for Roubaix,” Pogacar said. “Toughen my hands for the cobbles.”
— Ronde van Vlaanderen (@RondeVlaanderen) April 2, 2023