Mathieu van der Poel has claimed the first Monument victory of his career at the Tour of Flanders this afternoon after beating Wout Van Aert to the line as the pair, who between them have won the past six editions of the men's cyclo-cross world championships, went head-to-head on the road on their own for the first time.
The pair had escaped on the climb of the Taienberg with world champion Julian Alaphilippe, who would crash out shortly afterwards when he hit a motorbike ridden by a member of the race jury.
> Julian Alaphilippe out of Tour of Flanders after crashing with race motorbike (+ video)
Coming into the closing 500 metres of the 243.3km race, Alpecin-Fenix rider van der Poel, the Dutch national champion, was in the unenviable position of having Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert on his wheel, slowing down and eyeing his rival over his shoulder.
With the chasing group closing in fast, he could not delay making his move for too long, and launched his sprint with just under 200 metres to go to the line in Oudenaarde.
Van Aert, who had won his first Monument at Milan-San Remo in August, tried to come round van der Poel, but the Dutchman beat him to the line by a matter of centimetres, 34 years after his father Adrie won the Belgian Monument.
Alexander Kristoff of UAE Team Emirates, winner of the race in 2015, won the sprint for third place to complete the podium.
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