Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Van Baarle was part of a two-rider group that caught Pogačar and eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel inside the final 250m of Sunday’s race. What had looked destined to be a two-up race for victory turned into a quartet with van Baarle starting his sprint toward the center of the road.
As the sprint entered the final 100 meters, van Baarle moved to get onto van der Poel’s wheel, squeezing Pogačar who was just behind him.
The Slovenian can be seen tapping van Baarle on the side before he swerved slightly and slowed down before throwing his arms in the air in frustration.
- Tadej Pogačar ‘not angry but frustrated’ after Tour of Flanders sprint miscue
- Robbie McEwen: ‘Tadej Pogačar made a junior error in Tour of Flanders sprint loss’
- Mathieu van der Poel edges reduced sprint in dramatic final
Following the finish, Pogačar rode right through the media zone without stopping and he could be seen remonstrating with members of his team further down that road.
While Pogačar was frustrated, van Baarle didn’t see that he’d done something wrong.
“It wasn’t a congratulations that he was saying at the finish line, he was a bit angry but maybe a bit frustrated. I think I didn’t do anything wrong, I just kept my line,” van Baarle said at the finish in Oudenaarde.
Van Baarle had settled himself for a sprint for third place after getting dropped when Pogačar made his stinging attack on the final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont.
Riding with Groupama-FDJ rider Valentin Madouas, the Dutchman was so focused on keeping another three-man group behind them that he didn’t even notice Pogačar and van der Poel until he was right up on them.
“It was a bit of an unexpected final. I still can’t believe what happened. You make yourself ready to sprint for third and then you end up second,” he said. “We always saw them in sight but to turn out like this I didn’t expect that.
“I was more busy with the guys behind, to keep them behind and Madouas was the same. We just kept on riding, and then all of a sudden, they slowed and we were sprinting for victory.”
This year was van Baarle’s ninth straight appearance at the Tour of Flanders after making his debut back in 2014.
Over the years, van Baarle has racked up a good number of top 10 finishes and came close to the podium in 2017 when he took fourth after getting into a three-man chase group behind that year’s winner Philippe Gilbert.
Almost a decade of experience on the Flemish cobbles has taught van Baarle how to ride within himself and it paid off with his first podium finish at a monument.
“I know where my limits are and I know what I’m capable of so I always try to race like that as well. It probably was because of experience,” van Baarle said. “I was just pacing myself on the Oude Kwaremont. I could feel that the pace was just too high.
“You could see with Fred Wright that he tried to follow and he just exploded and I just paced it to the top and came with Madouas over the top and we kept out of sight,” he said.
“That’s what you plan on the Kwaremont to make sure you get over it and you can still race for a result. It’s not to stay with them and then maybe explode. You have to manage your effort and make the most out of it.”