Tour of Flanders scrapbook: Pogačar’s lost KoMs, 400 watts for too long, nu-metal vibes, and winner’s fries

Here are some of the best stories, takeaways, and oddities coming out of a Ronde for the record books.

Photo: DIRK WAEM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

GHENT, Belgium (VN) – Echelons, crashes, watt-bombs, frites, and a stunner solo victory – the men’s edition of the Tour of Flanders had it all.

Tadej Pogačar inched closer to Eddy Merckx, the peloton was brought down by one of the worst pile-ups in memory, and Wout van Aert’s cobblestone quest remained unrewarded.

It was quite simply an edition of De Ronde for the ages.

With more thrills, spills, and spectacular moments than the rest of spring put together, Sunday’s race delivered almost too many storylines for one website to handle. And that’s before we even start on a stunner repeat victory for Lotte Kopecky in the women’s race.

So what are some of the stats and storylines you might have missed from the men’s edition of De Ronde?

Here’s your scrapbook of takeaways and oddities from Belgian cycling’s “Holy Day.”

First, some stats

  • 107th Tour of Flanders, 2023
  • Fastest average speed on record, with Pogačar’s 44.1kph pace topping Gianluca Bortolami’s 2001 ride of 43.6 km/h
  • Riders riders to win both the Tour de France and Ronde van Vlaanderen in their career: Pogačar, Eddy Merckx, Louison Bobet
  • Pogačar’s 2023 season palmarès: 16 race days, 8 one-day wins, 2 GC wins
  • Number of frites consumed by Pogačar at the finish: As many as he damn wants.

Van der Poel, monument man

Another day, another monument top-10 for MvdP. (Photo: GOYVAERTS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

It was 13th monument not so lucky for Mathieu van der Poel when he failed to claim his Flanders hat-trick Sunday. But boy, does that guy know how to race a huge, horribly hard race.

With top-10s at each of his 11 monument starts, “MvdP” is arguably the most consistent of his era.

“This was one of the best editions of the Ronde for me,” he said at the finish. “Even from the last time up the Paterberg and to the finish, I didn’t go below 400 watts, but I just couldn’t get any closer. When that happens, you’re a deserved second and you cannot complain.”

Oh, and did you know he’s pretty good at cyclocross too?

MvdP’s monument palmarès:

  • 2023 Tour of Flanders: 2nd
  • 2023 Milan-San Remo: 1st
  • 2022 Paris-Roubaix: 9th
  • 2022 Tour of Flanders: 1st
  • 2022 Milan-San Remo: 3rd
  • 2021 Paris-Roubaix: 3rd
  • 2021 Tour of Flanders: 2nd
  • 2021 Milan-San Remo: 5th
  • 2020 Tour of Flanders: 1st
  • 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège: 6th
  • 2020 Il Lombardia: 10th
  • 2020 Milan-San Remo: 13th
  • 2019 Tour of Flanders: 4th

Pogačar’s lost KoMs

Sorry Pogi, your ride got flagged.

How many KoMs did Tadej Pogačar crush on his blitz to victory Sunday? It took a long time to find out.

Pogačar’s Strava file was flagged Sunday night, meaning the Slovenian’s numbers were excluded from the leaderboards of the thousands of rides recorded on Flanders’ finest bergs.

It wasn’t until midday Monday the Slovenian’s mind-blowing sweep of “King of the Mountain” achievements was unlocked by Strava, leaving a battery of pros ousted from their segment thrones.

Pogačar’s winning ride Sunday saw a swath of records broken on the infamous Kwarement climb, with one segment recording him crushing 1.1km of the leg-sapping stones at 33kph. With a time of 2:02, it was more than fast enough to boot Kasper Asgreen from his once top-of-the-board slot, recorded at 2:13.

Maybe it was the Dane who flagged the ride in the first place? Who knows, but now Pogi’s Flanders ride has been unflagged, he’s king of one of the most iconic hills in pro cycling.


400W for 100km, why not?

De Ronde couldn’t have started much faster Sunday.

If the first hours of echelon carnage Sunday looked tough on TV, that’s because they most definitely were.

With a stiff tailwind out of Bruges and teams like Bahrain Victorious committed to taking the race by force, the first 98km of racing took just two hours. That’s 49kph at just the start of a six-plus hour ride over Belgium’s hardest Hellingen.

Flanders debutant Iván Romeo shared some of the numbers behind his Ronde, and his coach should be impressed.

Nearly 400W average – or 5.3w/kg for the burly Movistar racer – for more than two hours? It’s not a surprise the 19-year-old Spaniard didn’t finish his first monument Sunday.

Pedersen’s big day derailed by ‘Big Three’ hype

Take a bow, Mads Pedersen.

It’s time to give Mads Pedersen a little love.

The Danish express train delivered one of the rides of the day Sunday. He went on on the attack 100km from the line, tried to race solo through the final, then beat back the chasing bunch in the podium sprint.

If Pogačar hadn’t detonated De Ronde, if Van Aert hadn’t missed the podium, and if that crash hadn’t nearly derailed the race, Pedersen would be talk of the town Monday.

But instead, Pedersen’s ride to his best monument finish since his 2018 Flanderst breakout was almost swamped out by the “Big Three” buzz.

“I’d rather try and die in the end than just follow and still pop at the end,” Pedersen said at the finish. “That’s how I wanted to race – just anticipate and don’t be afraid of running out of bullets. It paid off quite OK.”

Kudos to you, Mads.

Powless, Jorgenson put heat into US classics hopes

Powless roared to fifth on Flanders, and his compatriot Jorgenson wasn’t far behind.

The USA has been waiting for its next great male one-day racer for a decade, and all of a sudden it’s got two at once.

Tour of Flanders rookies Neilson Powless and Matteo Jorgenson both hit into the top-10 in Oudenaarde and claimed career monument bests Sunday.

The dynamic duo impressed all spring, and at ages just 26 and 23 respectively, it seems only a matter of time before one of Powless or Jorgenson becomes the first U.S. male to stand on a monument podium since George Hincapie finished third at the 2006 Flanders.

“I love cycling so much, and when you’re racing at the front of a monument, especially one as beautiful as Flanders,” Powless said after he kicked to fifth. “Man, it gives me chills.”

Powless may have gotten chills, but U.S. racing is pretty hot right now.

Bruges brings the party – ‘Nu Metal’ songbook for ‘Holy Sunday’

Nu metal tunes and good vibes at the start in Bruges. (Photo: Jim Cotton)

Belgian cycling’s “Holy Day” preached to a heavy metal beat in De Ronde’s first start out of Bruges for seven years.

Songs resigned to the long-forgotten Nu Metal era blasted across the picturesque Bruges square and its picture-postcard chocolate shops and Christmas market-style stalls.

Brat-boy rock from Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach blared out before a rendition of “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy was rapidly cut short.

Bora-Hansgrohe took the stage in front of several thousand fans to a soundtrack of “Du Hast” by the nationally appropriate Rammstein.

It was bemusing, but like the race that followed, it was brilliant.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.