Men Elite history
The Big Three, that was the talk of the week leading up to the Tour of Flanders. In the end, it was Pogačar who took the Tour of Flanders all the way. Van der Poel stranded in second place, Pedersen won the sprint for third.
Only six men have been able to include Flanders’ Finest three times on their list of wins. Only one of them did it three times in a row. And, who knows, one rider may soon be joining this group of six. With two wins, Mathieu van der Poel is in pole position for a place in this exceptional series of names.
Achiel Buysse became the first record holder after his victory in 1943 with three victories in the Tour of Flanders. During his first victory in ‘his’ Wetteren in 1940, Buysse broke away on the Oude Kwaremont before arriving solo on the cobblestones of Jan Broeckaertlaan. A year later he won in a sprint. In 1943, Buysse achieved his third success. In Ghent, he beat Albert Sercu and Camille Beeckman.
Italian Fiorenzo Magni sprinted to his first victory in the Tour of Flanders in 1949, after a race of 260 kilometres. He left behind Valère Olivier and Briek Schotte to become the second foreign winner of the Tour of Flanders. A year later, Magni mounted his decisive attack on the Muur van Geraardsbergen. After a tough race, he finished solo, winning by more than two minutes ahead of his first pursuer, Briek Schotte. In 1951, Magni achieved a unique feat in the history of Flanders’ Finest. So far, he is the only rider to have won the Tour three times in a row.
Eric Leman not only won the Tour of Flanders three times; in doing so, the rider from Lendelede also beat Eddy Merckx three times. His first victory in 1970 saw him celebrate victory after winning a sprint with Walter Godefroot and The Cannibal. Two years later, he was the strongest in a leading group of seven. In 1973, Leman became one of the record holders in Flanders’ Finest after winning a sprint with Freddy Maertens, Eddy Merckx and Willy De Geest.
The Lion of Flanders won the Tour of Flanders for the first time in 1993. Museeuw defeated the Dutchman Frans Maassen in the sprint. The Belgian would add Flanders’ Finest twice more to his roll of successes. In both 1995 and 1998, he did so after a nice solo. In 1995, he finished almost a minute and a half ahead of Baldato and Tchmil. Three years later, his teammate Zanini came second, 43 seconds behind Museeuw.
At the age of just 24, Tom Boonen won his first Tour of Flanders. A year later, the Belgian stood in the rainbow jersey at the start of Flanders’ Finest. Leif Hoste accelerated on the Valkenberg, but Boonen stuck to his wheel. In a two-man sprint, Hoste proved no match for the world champion. In 2012, Boonen rode to his third victory. He beat the Italians Ballan and Pozzato in the sprint.
In 2010, Fabian Cancellara announced well in advance that the Tour of Flanders would be his main objective for that year. The Swiss kept to his word and beat Tom Boonen in a straight duel before eventually crossing the line solo. His victory three years later was no less impressive. Then, he left his two fellow escapees, Peter Sagan and Jürgen Roelandts behind on the Paterberg. Cancellara achieved his third success in 2014. In that year, he beat Greg Van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke and Stijn Vandenbergh in a sprint.