Alejandro Valverde and grandson of Poulidor assault Flanders

The Spanish and Van der Poel, two debutants among the favorites in the second monument of the season. Both are world champions.


The Frenchman Jacky Durand, in 1992, was the last cyclist to achieve his first participation in the Tour of Flanders, the second monument of the season celebrated today with two other 'rookies' among the favorites. On the one hand, Alejandro Valverde, the Murcian world champion who, at the age of 39 (April 25), faces one of the great challenges that has been marked in his rainbow season.

For the other, a much younger runner ( 24 years) as Mathieu van der Poel, also world champion (cyclocross), which is on everyone's lips since his victory on Wednesday in the best test for this race: Through Flanders. The Dutchman, grandson of the legendary Raymond Poulidor and son of the cyclist Adrie van der Poel (winner of the Tour of Flanders in 1986), is the fashion broker. The bookmakers include him among the great contenders although, not It is only debutante, but it is the first monument that disputes. Yes he has experience and triumphs on the road (he wears the Dutch champion jersey), but his victory this week meant his World Tour premiere.

As a rookie in the event, but with a lot more experience, Valverde, winner of four monuments (four Lieges), who has already been inspecting the course with the team that will support him, including the Belgian Jurgen Roelandts, specialist signed by Movistar for this time of classics and has experience and good results : was third in 2013 and eighth in 2015. However, the one from Las Lumbreras is realistic: "I do not consider myself a favorite, I can do good paper" .

Aware that when facing the 270 km sprinkled with 17 climbs and pavés , will face specialists like Van Avermaet (CCC), Terpstra (Direct Energie), Sagan (Bora), Kristoff (UAE), Van Aert (Jumbo), or the army of Deceuninck with Gilbert, Stybar, Jungels (another rookie) ... "90% I will not win, but with good legs and good luck ...", confides Valverde, baza to be the first Spanish (Arrow was third in 2008) in conquer this race that also has its female version and where the riojana Sheyla Gutiérrez (Movistar), after being fifth in Through Flanders, also has arguments to dream.



Photos from as.com

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