The absent Van der Poel, ‘key’ in Pogacar’s triumph

That Tadej Pogacar won the Amstel Gold Race is no surprise, since the Slovenian started as a great favorite and fulfilled the forecasts. That is not why he ceases to have merit, and more because of the way in which he imposed himself. With 28 km to go, the man from the UAE went solo towards victory after attacking on the Keutenberg: “You can assure that it was not easy at all. I suffered”. It was one of the most demanding levels, although there was still a significant distance to the finish line and more so in a test that is usually decided in recent years. The reason for attacking at that exact point? A tip from a test winner: Mathieu van der Poel, winner of the beer race in 2019. He texted me three days ago telling me to attack there. I will appreciate it”, Tadej revealed at the finish line in Valkenburg.

All this just a few weeks after having left the Dutchman without glory in the Tour of Flanders. He speaks of the good atmosphere and harmony between two runners who have shared the three Monuments contested this season: two for Van der Poel (Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix) and one for Pogacar (Tour of Flanders). On Sunday it will be the turn for the fourth, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but the Dutchman and Van Aert have already ended their classic campaign. The presumable duel will be between Pogacar and Evenepoel. Before, Tadej will have a demanding appointment in the Fleche-Walloon this Wednesday, with the famous wall of Huy to finish in the second test of the triptych of the Ardennes: “Yes, I’ll be there,” he said, dispelling doubts about a possible absence.

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Pogacar has before him a major challenge: conquer the Ardennes triptych. He has eleven victories in 2023, he is at an excellent level and it is not unreasonable for him to consider it. Obviously, the most complex thing for him is the Fleche-Wallona, ​​because he already won in Liège. That triplet in the Ardennes was only achieved by two riders in all of history: Davide Rebellin in 2014 and Philippe Gilbert in 2011, who had also just won the Brabanzona Arrow a few days before. “With this broker, any expectation we have is logical because he is a candidate to win absolutely everything. We are optimistic and realistic in the sense that we currently have the best cyclist in the world, ”said Matxin, manager of Pogacar’s UAE, at Pica de AS after winning his pupil in the Tour of Flanders. He wasn’t bluffing.

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