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Asgreen wins!

They go for the sprint, van der Poel looks like he's going to do it – but then all of a sudden he seems to fade in an instant, allowing Asgreen to chug his way past. He just knew he didn't have the power to go another 40m and actually stopped pedalling..
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An amazing sprint finish there, and it went totally against expectations, with Asgreen simply waiting van der Poel out in the finish straight.
Van Avermaet gets third ahead of Stuyven in the dash for the last podium spot and Sep Vanmarcke wins the mini-sprint for fifth behind them.

Flamme rouge!

Asgreen is on van der Poel's wheel. He's refusing to come round.

3km to go – Attack from Golden Greg!

The AG2R man is off on a flyer. He smells that sweet third place is there for the taking. Jasper Stuyven follows in his slipstream and absolutely nobody else is able to go with the Flandrian pair.

5km to go – The balance inexorably tips

Seems the win is certain to come from Asgreen and van der Poel now. They have 36 seconds on the chasers.

10km to go – Last 10km

And it's basically flat now to the finish. Van Aert is completely adrift now as he gets swallowed up by the chasing group. The race will go to Asgreen or van der Poel.

12km to go – Over the Paterberg

That's the day's final climb done and it's still van der Poel and Asgreen off the front together. Van Aert is going side to side on the Paterberg, he's really struggling but he's not beaten just yet.
Behind van Aert, it's Turgis, van Avermaet, Senechal, Benoot, Van Baarle and Stuyven who continue to chase.

Watt bombs away!

Mathieu van der Poel just obliterated the other two on the Kwaremont, attacking with cold fury. Asgreen was able to follow and catch up, but van Aert was not.
The Belgian is in no-mans's land right now.
That was honestly an astonishing move from van der Poel, just pure power and no finesse, like a sledgehammer. Van Aert didn't have an answer.
Just the Paterberg to come.

20km to go – Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg coming up

The leading trio of Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Kasper Asgreen have a healthy margin of 25 seconds now on the Bahrain-led group two. I think group three will catch them quite soon, but the race win is quite literally disappearing up the road.
Just two climbs left. Gosh this is tense.
Anthony Turgis is attacking again on the Oude Kwaremont. He drags Greg van Avermaet with him.

25km to go – Asgreen lights it up!

And immediately it's van der Poel and van Aert who cover that move. They seem more concerned by the Dane than they do about Alaphilippe. The three of them break clear and very quickly establish a small gap.
It's interesting now because you wouldn't back Asgreen to beat either of these guys in a sprint, but he's alone without Alaphilippe.
It's Bahrain who must now chase down this leading move, with the help of Turgis who really does seem to be on a flyer today. Alaphilippe will simply sit in and conserve.

30km to go – Six of the best

It really is a very strong group leading this race right now, and back behind them it's Ineos doing the lion's share of the chasing. Greg van Avermaet and Jasper Stuyven are also in the second group on the road – as is Turgis.
10 seconds is the gap now, with the Kruisberg/Hotond next up and it looks like Marco Haller going backwards from the front six, before he digs massively deep and pulls back level – only for Alaphilippe to fire things up once again with an acceleration. What is this, bully Marco day?
In the background, Anthony Turgis has broken out of the second group on the road and he is bridging over!
Meanwhile, Matteo Trentin has punctured and that's probably the end of his Ronde. An agonisingly slow rear wheel change puts paid to any hope of him regaining contact.

35km to go – All change again

That Alaphilippe-Pidcock-Bisseger group has dissolved and reformed into a new leading sextet, with Asgreen, van der Poel, Haller, van Aert and Dylan Teuns.
Elegant-Quick-Step probably have the advantage here with both Asgreen and Alaphilippe, although Bahran also have two rides. And how many cyclists does one van der Poel equal?

40km to go – Van der Poel and van Aert leading the pursuit

It's the other two of the so-called 'Big Three' that are doing the work to bring back Alaphilippe.
Briton Tom Pidcock is tucked in there with them, and they've brought it back together. Turgis is in that leading group, so too are Haller, Wellens and Laporte.
The briefest of pauses now in the hostilities, before the Taiienberg, Kruisberg, and that final one-two punch of the Kwaremont and Paterberg one last time.

Alaphilippe attacks on the Koppenberg!

Huge acceleration from the world champ!
He's going to catch Bisseger in a matter of seconds. That's got to be a blow to the Dane's hopes!
Slightly further back it's still remarkably concentrated, with plenty of riders still in the chase.
Bisseger and Alaphilippe have teamed up now.

45km to go – Pressure on the goldenboys

A split has formed with van der Poel and Van Aert on the wrong side of it!
A group containing Pidcock, Alaphilippe, Marco Haller, Tim Wellens, Senechal and Laporte is away off the front. They have maybe 10 seconds of advantage at the moment.
Stefan Bisseger still leads by approximately 25 seconds.

50km to go – Elites duking it out

There's no more team tactics, no more domestiques, this is the very cream of the crop battling each other man-to-man. As they go over the crest of the Paterberg it's van der Poel and Asgreen who once again power clear of the bunch – these two are looking absolutely formidable here!
Maybe 15 riders are in the elite selection. Alaphilippe, Laporte, Senechal, Van Aert, Kung, Turgis and Pidcock are all in the mix.

Van der Poel and Asgreen go clear

Huge move from the Dutch and Danish national champs. They break clear ever so briefly from the leaders with a big dig at the top of the Kwaremont, but they are reeled back in by the work of Jumbo-Visma.
Next the Paterberg, and it's still Bisseger leading this race solo.

55km to go – Bisseger looking strong

It's the Dane from EF Education Nippo looking the strongest of the breakaway. He is powering away from his attacking buddies with apparent ease as they battle their way up the Kwaremont.
Bisseger must surely know that the goose is cooked for the attack, but perhaps he fancies a pop at this from a solo. He certainly has the time trial skills... And remember, Philippe Gilbert won from exactly this position a few years ago.
As the peloton hits the bottom of the Kwaremont it's Victor Campenaerts leading for Qhubeka Assos. Stefan Kung gets tangled up and hits the cobbles.

60km to go – Bergs upon bergs

That lull in the peloton while the favourites involved in the crash get back in leads us very nicely into the final explosive denouement of the race. In about five kilometres we're taking on the Oude Kwaremont for the second time, and after that we're onto the Koppenberg, Taienberg, the Kruisberg, the Kwaremont once again and the Paterberg! These are legendary and fearsome names in the history of cycling.
Another crash, this time Owain Doull and a rider from BikeExchange seem to be the ones brought down. Here's the earlier crash involving Alaphilippe.

65km to go – Soren sits up, Julian falls down

The Dane on Team DSM had broken away with about 10 seconds between him and the other guys who attacked on his coattails. However, he has decided that the move is not worth the energy he was investing and sat up.
Meanwhile, midway back in the peloton, we've seen a huge crash with loads of riders involved, including the rainbow bands of Julian Alaphilippe! His teammate Kasper Asgreen is also distanced. A big effort to chase back at this moment in proceedings is not ideal.
Oliver Naesen and Michael Matthews both also seem to be chasing back. The leaders of the peloton have sat up now it looks like to let everyone back in.

70km to go – Full gas!

70km to go and if the peloton continues at their current breakneck speed we'll be home within the next 60 minutes. They are absolutely booking it at the moment!
Soren Kragh Andersen puts in a little testing attack on the Kanarieberg, and he is being covered by Bora-Hansgrohe, This is promising!
The gap to the early breakaway is 2'21" now. They won't survive, despite that massive early time advantage.

75km to go – Horrible crash for Nils Eekhoff

A really nasty looking one that, but he's up on his feet thankfully. I don't imagine he'll take part in the finale of this race now.

85km to go – On the Valkenberg

This group is coalescing nicely now, they have put a little bit of daylight between themselves and the peloton – about 10 seconds now.
Meanwhile, Ronde debutant Warren Barguil is making his way back into the bunch after what looked to be a crash, or possibly a puncture.
That Michael Schar DQ, by the way, is not going down well on Twitter...

Attack from Kevin Geniets!

This is interesting. The Luxembourg champion has powered away from the peloton and he's immediately followed by about eight other riders, including representatives from Alpecin, Jumbo, Deceuninck and Trek. We'll see if they can break free for real.
It doesn't look like Alpecin are happy with the move.

95km to go – Molenberg attack!

This is the first crucial moment in the race. As they tackle the incredibly tight left turn onto the Molenberg, it's Elegant-QuickStep who pour on the pressure. They have Asgreen and Alaphilippe at the very front of the peloton and they absolutely gassed the climb.
Van der Poel was able to hang with the move, as was Wout van Aert. We can also see Rob Stannard, Anthony Turgis and Oliver Naesen further back in the leading group. The result has been a real stringing out of the peloton, rather than a true 'split'.
The acceleration has also chopped a huge chunk of the breakaway's lead down. It's now a gap of 5'48".

100km to go – Michael Schär disqualified!

Well, that's a sign of the times. The Swiss has been disqualified from the race for throwing a bidon to a fan. The UCI's new rules on disposing of rubbish in only the designated zones have come up to bite the AG2R Citroen rider. They were warned that the rules would be strictly enforced and that's the proof.

110km to go – Hairy scenes

This is delightful. You can feel the tension building and building – with the Wolvenberg (which is next up) basically signalling the start of the cobbled anarchy which runs pretty much all the way to the finish, it's only going to get tenser and tenser.
We've just seen a few hairy moments in the peloton as they negotiate some big road junctions, before Tom Pidcock tries to pedal up the flat bit of the road at the side of the cobbles, only to wind up on the wrong side of the crash barriers!

130km to go – Van Baarle on career-best form

The Dutchman riding for Ineos is in perhaps the best form of his life, as we saw on Wednesday when he soloed away from the peloton to take a stunning victory in Dwars door Vlaanderen. The win has moved him into the realms of 'dark horse' for today.
The race midweek was an intriguing spectacle and not just because of van Baarle's performance. One of the most notable occurrences being Mathieu van der Poel getting dropped. You can read a bit more about the questions DDV raised for today's race here:
Today's race has 130km to go, with the peloton taking on the Oude Kwaremont for the first time. It seems as though nobody is minded to attack on this ascent of the mighty cobbled monster. This is really where the race should come to life. The gap to the leaders has come down below 10 minutes for the first time in the day.

140km to go – 11'31" for the break

As Tim Decelercq takes up the task of controlling the break, the gap has stabilised a little bit at eleven-and-a-half minutes.

150km to go – Riding with the Lion

If you're interested in the history of pro cycling then you won't want to miss this enthralling documentary put together by our colleagues over at GCN+. It follows Johan Museeuw, the man they called 'the Lion of Flanders'.
Museeuw was a rider who dominated the one day classics. Ex-pro Bernie Eisel joins Johan on some of his favourite cobbled climbs from the Tour of Flanders to find out what set him aside at these prestigious races. You can stream this and more of the best cycling stories in the world exclusively on GCN+.
You can sign up to GCN+ and watch the film here.

160km to go – Handbags and squabbling

Nothing like a big monument to bring out the drama, is there? We've had two riders disqualified already today, for this strange interaction.

'It is ridiculous' - Fedorov and Vergaerde disqualified for dangerous riding at Tour of Flanders

They are Otto Vergaerde (Alpecin Fenix) and Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana). It seems the Astana rider pulled his brakes a little too dramatically while near the front of the race, and then the Alpecin Fenix rider took exception to this.
We've also seen a bit of squabbling about who will control our break, after Jumbo-Visma demurred spending 200 kilometres being the only team chasing. Can't really blame them can you.

Howdy!

Welcome Flandri-fans and cobble gobblers, to the Eurosport live blog of the 2021 Ronde van Vlaanderen.
The peloton has been rolling for some time already, but we still have 181km to go before the finish. The breakaway has a whopping 10'11" at the moment, but to be honest at this early stage in the day they could have double that and it still wouldn't provide much hope of an actual win for the directors in their respective team cars.
Here are the names in the break: Stefan Bisseger (EF Education Nippo), Nico Denz (Team DSM), Hugo Houle (Astana PremierTech), Jelle Wallays (Cofidis), Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces), Fabio Van Den Bossche (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Mathias Noorsgaard (Movistar)

Re-Cycle: 'That was my chance' – when Adrie Van der Poel denied Sean Kelly at the Tour of Flanders

Thirty-four years before Mathieu van der Poel won the Tour of Flanders in 2020, his father pipped Sean Kelly to the line. Felix Lowe turns back the clock to 1986, and the race in which the Irishman would come closest to glory in the only Monument that would forever elude him.
Adrie van der Poel found the 2020 Tour of Flanders more stressful than the edition he actually won. Not only was the outcome out of his hands, but the 61-year-old was also working for his son’s Alpecin-Fenix team, giving out spare wheels and musettes along the route – all while trying to keep track of Mathieu’s performance.

Watch the stunning Tour of Flanders finish as Van der Poel and Van Aert duke it out

“He was in front with two other really good riders,” Van der Poel says, recalling the winning move that also featured Wout van Aert and world champion Julian Alaphilippe, who crashed out dramatically with 35km remaining after colliding with a motorbike.
“Okay, one fell down, then it was a battle between the two of them. And it was the battle everyone wanted to see. Van Aert had won his first Monument at San Remo. So for Mathieu, after the hard work he did, it was very nice to win his first big Monument. And for me it was extra special because I won that race too.”
It was 6th April 1986 when Van der Poel senior won the Ronde, the Dutchman pulling off a surprise to dart past Ireland’s Sean Kelly and triumph from a four-man break in Meerbeke. It was the second of three occasions in the space of four years that Kelly would finish runner-up in Flanders – the only one of cycling’s five Monuments missing from his otherwise impeccable palmarès.
If Kelly was ever going to win the Ronde, 1986 was the year. The then-29-year-old was at the peak of his powers and firing on all cylinders, having already won a fifth consecutive Paris-Nice crown and a maiden Milan-San Remo title. But form is not the only factor in a bike race. If anything, Kelly can now readily admit that he was overconfident that day.

Who is racing?

Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe, Peter Sagan, Mads Pedersen and Greg van Avermaet will all be on the startline for the second monument of the season. Can Van der Poel defend his title?

Tour of Flanders 2021 is live on Eurosport.

You can watch the race unfold on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app and Eurosport 1.
Coverage of the men's race on Eurosport 1 begins at 08:55 BST and ends at 15:45 BST - at which point coverage of the women's Tour of Flanders will begin.
An ad-free livestream of the Tour of Flanders men's race 2021 will begin at 08:40 BST on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk and will run through to 15:45. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
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Meet Johan Museeuw: The Lion Of Flanders

Museeuw was a rider who dominated the one day classics. Ex-pro Bernie Eisel joins Johan on some of his favourite cobbled climbs from the Tour of Flanders to find out what set him aside at these prestigious races. You can stream this and more of the best cycling stories in the world exclusively on GCN+.
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