Monumental surprise of Bettiol in Flanders; Valverde, 8th

The Italian, without victories until now as a professional, took the triumph in the second monument. Asgreen and Kristoff, podium. Valverde, eighth. Van der Poel, fourth.

There was no newcomer's victory, but a surprise that few expected. Alberto Bettiol, Italian cyclist of 25 years of Education First, won the Tour de Flandes, the second monument of the season. He achieved this thanks to the strategy of his team and his surprising strength to attack in the Oude Kwaremont, open gap and maintain almost 20km advantage over the group of favorites. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE) completed the podium in the decaffeinated sprint of the roosters, which were never understood in the fugitive's hunt. Alejandro Valverde, in his debut with 38 years, was always ahead and finished eighth.

It was a rare Tour of Flanders, with its winner of 2018, Niki Terpstra, eliminated by a fall at the first of change and with one of the attractions, Mathieu van der Poel, suffering a strange accident after a mechanical problem. The Dutchman, cyclocross world champion and an illustrious cyclist family (son of Adrie van der Poel and grandson of Poulidor), who came to win through Flanders, did not give up and returned to the front group, he tried several times and even finished fourth in goal. His determination to be a protagonist, although he debuted in a monument, did not disappoint despite the bad fortune.

Ya was ahead when he began to select the test. A dangerous escape formed by Van Baarle (Sky), Vandenbergh (Ag2r), Asgreen (Deceuninck) and Vanmarcke (Education First) put the favorites alert. The Movistar, with a very attentive Valverde, tucked their leader with Erviti and Sutterlin accelerating the pace; Cortina also tried to get into the cuts; Van der Poel was seen whenever he could ... and the Deceuninck, who was receiving news of weakness of his runaway cyclist, also added to tense the race.

"The longest 14 km of my life"

Nevertheless , was on the penultimate climb, Old Kwaremont, when the final attack took place. Vanmarcke, already in the group, was without options and, despite being the leader with a record with two podiums in the race, he dedicated himself to work as a conscious possessed that his team had two bullets left: Langeveld and Bettiol. It was the Italian who took the initiative with a great start at 17 km. The favorites, more outstanding rivals with more name, let do. That those who did not go through difficulties, case of Peter Sagan. Soon they would regret.

Because Bettiol, a young cyclist but who had not yet been released as a professional, set out a time trial to glory, even with the Paterberg on the road. He passed the last level and on the plain emptied while just behind there was little understanding and only Van Avermaet started more by courage than by conviction. "The longest 14 km of my life," the Italian would later say at the finish line, with good results this year (4th in Harelbeke), but whose triumph means, perhaps next to that of Hayman in Roubaix 2016 and in the style of Zaugg in Lombardy 2011, one of the biggest surprises of recent times in the most prestigious classics. A monumental surprise.

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