Live updates of the men's Tour of Flanders classic, otherwise known as the Ronde van Vlaanderen, one of cycling's five one-day Monuments. Tom Owen brings km-by-km detail as the peloton tackle some of the most famous roads in cycling. Tour of Flanders is live on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.
Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Team Jumbo - Visma / Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin-Fenix / during the 104th Tour of Flanders 2020 - Ronde van Vlaanderen - Men Elite a 243,3km race
Not even van der Poel knew he'd won until the photo. He roars in delight, throws his bike in the air. It's an enormous victory for him and for his team, who are a second-tier squad.
Van Aert looked disconsolate upon hearing the news, as you might expect.
Photo finish! Van der Poel wins....
Van Aert waited until 200m to go with the chasers thundering up behind them. He was able to get around van der Poel with 50m remaining, but then the Dutchman dug deeper and was able to nose back in front on the line. 240-odd kilometres and it came down to a question of centimetres.
And Van Aert is now refusing to come through.
As Sep Vanmarcke is the latest to attack from the chasing group in search of that third podium spot.
2km to go – Cat and mouse?
Thye must know by now that they'll win. It's a question of who misses the first turn.
5km to go – Van Aert and van der Poel together at last
They have been the two most feted classics riders of the past two seasons, but we've rarely seen them go head to head. Last week's Gent-Wevelgem worked out poorly for both of them, whereas now they are all but assured of the win.
It's on a knife edge with five to go.
Here's that crucial moment Alaphilippe's hopes were dashed.
13km to go – Best of enemies
These two leaders have been having a bit of a war of words in the press in the last week or so. Whomever wins it, there are going to be some major bragging rights.
15km to go – Final time over the Kwaremont
One more berg, the mighty Paterberg, and then that's it – all flat to the finish.
The leaders have 1'12" now. Oliver Naesen is trying desperately to get across the gap to them.
20km to go – 1'24" for MvdP & WVA
The pursuers are not interested in or capable of trying to catch the leading duo. They'll content themselves with fighting for the third podium spot, it seems, unless something really remarkable happens.
25km to go – Chasers letting it get away
It's a powerful pack. Naesen, Bettiol, Madouas, Teuns, Lampaert, Asgreen, Kwiatkowski and more...
But they're losing time to the lead pair.
28km to go – Phenoms vs the World
So that's that for Alaphilippe. Now it's a case of van der Poel and Van Aert taking on the chasing pack of 20-or-so elite classics riders. Can they bring them back, though? Will they work together, or try and play silly games?
30km to go – Horrific crash for Alaphilippe...
The world champion has hit the deck after colliding with a race motorbike. Race over. Season over. Probably a broken collarbone and he also seems to have been badly winded. His bike flew so far from him after the impact that you couldn't even see it on the TV.
He's writhing around and screaming on the tarmac. Awful.
35km to go – Two become three
Van Aert has crossed the gap, now it's him, Alaphilippe and van der Poel in the lead with a gap of about 14 seconds.
Alaphilippe and van der Poel have untied together and formed an attacking pair. They have a gap to the chasers, and they are probably the last two guys you'd want to allow up the road.
Wout Van Aert digs deep and is trying furiously to bridge before it's too late.
40 km to go – Kwiatkowski chasing on
And the chasing groups have all coalesced with the leading duo. There's now a 'peloton' of roughly 25 riders. Mads Pedersen has just been dropped from it.
44km to go – Romain Bardet no longer leads the Ronde van Vlanderen
This time it's his countryman Julian Alaphilippe who forges clear. He absolutely annihilated the Koppenberg there, simply riding van der Poel off his wheel. At the moment it's only Adrien Petit who can stay with him.
Behind them, a chase group of about eight men is desperately trying to bring them back.
Van Aert, van der Poel, Alberto Bettiol and Oliver Naesen are in that chasing eight.
45km to go – Romain Bardet leads the Ronde van Vlanderen
The Frenchman has a small gap to the peloton heading into the brutal climb of the Koppenberg.
48km to go – Alaphilippe on the attack
The world champ has teammate Dries Devenyns with him and they are riding with Ineos' Dylan van Baarle. Just a small gap for the moment and I'm sure the peloton will do everything in its power to bring them back.
They're just a few moments away from the Koppenberg.
Well this is enthralling stuff. As they reach the summit of the Oude Kwaremont, the peloton come hammering up on the heels of the break, led by riders from Ineos, Bora and a first sighting near the front of Mathieu van der Poel.
The Koppenberg is next up and this is a climb where positioning going in is absolutely vital. Any further back than the front 20 riders and that could be your race over.
55km to go – The Catch is Coming
The breakaway is disintegrating on the Oude Kwaremont, and their gap is just 45 seconds now.
63km to go – Crash for Vanmarcke
One of EF Pro Cycling's key men today has had a crash after touching wheels with another rider. He's had a proper tantrum afterwards, clearly emotion is running high in this, the biggest race of the season for riders like him.
The pace meanwhile has really rocketed up. It's going to be absolutely brutal until the end now.
70km to go – Up the Kanarieberg
The peloton has knocked things off a bit since catching the Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg move. The original breakaway is still away, but their advantage is a scant 2'46" now.
After the Kanarieberg, it's 15km until the Kwaremont.
Daniel Oss is the latest to need a wheel change.
75km to go – Slippery surfaces
The rain has abated but the wet roads are causing more chaos. Stuyven has hit the deck. Jens Debuscherre and Tim Declercq have overshot the same corner and ended up in the Flandrian mud.
Looming soon is the killer combo of the Oude Kwaremont, the Koppenerg and the Paterberg in close succession. That'll blow the race to pieces.
Silvain DIllier, an outside chance for the win today, has crashed.
85km to go – Constant pressure
The peloton is strung out now to almost single-file. After every sharp turn a gap appears in the line and those on the wrong side of it have to battle really hard to close again.
Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg has attacked and he gets something like a meaningful gap, and Toms Skujins and a rider from Lotto Soudal have bridged over. Might this move stick?
We're also hearing about some wind that might blow across the bows of the bunch.
90km to go – Leberg next
The attacks have settled and once more it's Trek-Segafredo leading the peloton. They have been conspicuously placed near the head of proceedings all day so far. Will they rue using so much energy in the first half of the race, or will it pay off for their double-leadership of Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen?
95km to go – Kwiatkowski off the front
There are riders going in dribs and drabs off the front of the peloton and it's like watching a Grand Tour stage where they try to form the break. A group goes, then the peloton brings it back.
The Polish rider from Ineos has got into a move, but then the world champion Julian Alaphilippe shows himself, and after that Tim Wellens and Luke Durbridge have a go. Nothing is sticking, but this is all reducing the gap to the break who now have 5'44". It looks like Boasson Hagen will be brought back too as a result.
It's raining and people have started attacking off the peloton. Things are about to get very Flandrien.
100km to go – Only in cycling
Name me another sport where this could happen. After Edvald Boasson Hagen passed over a set of train tracks, the race marshals ran across the road with some tape, and the barrier arms of the level crossing dropped as if a train was imminent. The peloton came to a stop at the crossing, waiting for the 1:13 express to Antwerp to come by.
Then, the arms of the crossing went up again, but the marshals and their tape were still in the way. Some riders have ridden through the tape, and the race is all of a sudden back on.
The sum total of that brief stint of madness is that Eddy Boss is a little bit closer to the break and the peloton is a little bit further behind.
105km to go – Eddy Boss is off!
The NTT Pro Cycling rider has lit it up very early in the proceedings. He has a teammate in the breakaway, remember, but he has seven minutes to try and bridge solo before he reaches him.
This is audacious stuff from Edvald Boasson Hagen, as we see him chugging off the front of the peloton and over the summit of our latest climb, the Eikenberg.
113km to go – Crash for Van Aert
The big favourite rides off the road and falls into a ditch, and all of a sudden the hammer goes down at the front of the peloton. Funny coincidence, that.
The Belgian Jumbo Visma rider was not the only one involved, Tim Wellens was also brought down. They are both chasing back now.
115km to go – All quiet again
Peace has settled, briefly, upon the race.
123km to go – Huge pile-up at foot of the Kwaremont
Looks like two Ineos guys and one Movistar rider caught in the middle of what turns into a humongous bottleneck. No serious damage seems to have been done.
It's a very strange sight to see the Kwaremont abandoned.
As the peloton go up the climb, it's Trek Segafredo right at the front of the bunch. They look like they're trying to dissuade any attacks at this early juncture.
125km to go – Kwaremont is koming
The Oude Kwaremont features three times today and will be the race's penultimate climb. We are a few kilometres away from our first ascent of it, where we can expect the peloton to considerably thin down. It's 2.2km at 4% but the peak gradient is 11%.
135km to go – Save the rim brake!
It's very early in the day to be talking about punctures costing riders the race, but there have been some agonisingly slow wheel changes so far today – and you can easily see how, once the race is on, a significant amount of time could be lost.
A big factor in the slow change times is disc brakes, which add a couple of extra steps into the process whenever you have to switch a wheel.
As we see Kasper Asgreen changing his bike, after watching Chris Lawless doing the same a few moments ago, one begins to wonder if a team could actually run out of spares on a day like today.
Belgium vs Netherlands, round 2!
Wout Van Aert comes into the race today as favourite and as far as threats to his ambitions go, he will be most worried about Mathieu van der Poel. The two riders effectively marked one another out of the finale at Gent-Wevelgem last week, so anxious were they not to help the other to a victory.
Pedersen overhauls elite field to win Gent-Wevelgem
I dearly hope we don't get the same sort of scenario today. Flanders is far too unpredictable to race negatively.
142km to go – The Bergs begin
There have been a few more punctures, but none of the main protagonists have been afflicted.
And then, just when things quieten down, Gregor Muhlberger contrives to crash himself out by throwing a musette to the side of the road and accidentally catching his handlebar in the process. The bag pulled his handlebars to one side and he's come clattering down onto the tarmac like a ton of bricks. He looks physically fine but he'll certainly be feeling a little sheepish.
The Katteberg is our first berg of the day, which the break (minus Muhlberger) is contending with as we speak.
155km to go – The first kinderkoppen of the day
The break has rolled over the Lippenhovestraat and the Paddestraat, the peloton is about eight minutes still in arrears.
Christian Knees has his third puncture of the day, Taco van der Hoorn also needs a wheel change, but otherwise these slightly more manageable early cobbled sectors haven't created too much chaos.
170km to go – Break has 7'39"
It was remiss of me not to mention that there's already a breakaway. We haven't seen them on the TV much, presumably because nobody actually thinks they'll stay away. There are six riders, Gregor Muhlberger, Gijs Van Hoecke, Samuele Battistella, Dimitri Peyskens, Danny Van Poppel and Fabio van den Bossche.
175km to go – Florian Vermeersch crashes
The Belgian who had a storming ride at Gent-Wevelgem has slipped over in a turn and clattered into some barriers. That's not ideal at this point in the day.
Here's GCN and Eurosport's Dan Lloyd doing something similar in 2011.
Frigid conditions in Flanders
Wout Van Aert is taking off his shoe covers, but if I were in his cleats I'd give it another hour at least. It looks absolutely perishing out there on the Belgian roads. Most riders have gloves plus leg and arm warmers on and there's a chilly mist hanging low over the roads.
Truly, it's proper Flandrien weather out there.
180km to go – Tom Van Aesbroeck stops to say 'hi' to the family
As the peloton rumbles through his home town of Lede, the Belgian sprinter riding for Israel StartUp Nation pulls to the side of the road and gives his wife and kids a kiss and a cuddle. That is not something many riders get to do in a monument, so good for him.
And welcome to the live blog for the nobbliest, wobbliest, cobbliest classic of them all!
Van Aert and Van der Poel will fight it out for Tour of Flanders win
What is so special about the Tour of Flanders?
Philippe Gilbert explains why the famous Belgian classic, otherwise known as the Ronde van Vlaanderen, is one of the highlights of the cycling calendar.
The defending Paris-Roubaix champion talks to Orla Chennaoui about his expectations for the winner, and expects it to come down to a battle between Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel.
Van Aert and Van der Poel will fight it out for Tour of Flanders win – Gilbert
‘Van Aert is big favourite for Flanders'
Jumbo-Visma director Richard Plugge hopes that there won’t be a repeat of Gent-Wevelgem for Wout van Aert in the rider’s rivalry with Mathieu van der Poel, when the two riders were so focussed on each other that neither ended up competing for the race victory.
Plugge says that Van Aert is his favourite to win the Tour of Flanders.
‘Van Aert is big favourite for Flanders… if he can avoid shadow boxing with Van der Poel’ - Plugge
Can Julian Alaphilippe win the Tour of Flanders?
Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui spoke to Patrick Lefevre after Brabantse Pijl, and the Deceuninck Quick-Step manager says that Julian Alaphilippe showed in that race that he has what it takes to win The Tour of Flanders.
Can Alaphilippe win the Tour of Flanders?
How are teams juggling the intense 2020 cycling calendar?
Jonathan Vaughters has spoken to Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui about how his EF Pro Cycling team have juggled their resources for this unique covid-19 impacted cycling season in order to cope with the logistics of so many races in quick succession.
How are teams juggling the intense 2020 cycling calendar?
HOW TO WATCH THE Tour of Flanders LIVE – TV & LIVE STREAMING