Van Aert beats rival after wild sprint in Belgian one-day race

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Harelbeke. The Belgian Wout van Aert can call himself the winner of the Belgian one-day race E3 Saxo Bank Classic for the second year in a row, which has a start and finish in Harelbeke.

By small margins, the Jumbo-Visma rider beat his eternal rival, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin), in the sprint, while Tadej Pogacar (UAE) was right behind them after the three superstars had driven away from the rest of the field.

The race is known as the small version of the Tour of Flanders, as it is run on some of the same stretches, and it therefore functions as a kind of warm-up for the Tour of Flanders, which is run next Sunday.

Mathias Norsgaard was part of an early breakout which was driven in. Then there was more substance in the group that Søren Kragh Andersen set off with, when there were about 55 kilometers left.

Andersen sat together with the race’s biggest favorites in a six-man group that also included Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogacar, Matej Mohoric and Nathan Van Hooydonck.

They had a lead of about 40 seconds in a period of 15 kilometers, but then the sheep were separated from the goats.

Pogacar pushed and initially only got Mathieu van der Poel with him, while Wout van Aert had problems before he made contact with the duo at the front anyway.

Søren Kragh Andersen had to escape and did not return to the front.

The star-studded trio quickly built up a lead of more than a minute, and it soon became clear that they had to race for victory.

In the last kilometers Pogacar tried several attacks, but he could not drive away from the two specialists who decided the race between them.

Søren Kragh Andersen later finished as number nine.

The race has twice had a Danish winner. Søren Lilholt won in 1990 and Kasper Asgreen in 2021.


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