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Mathieu van der Poel achieved the best cobblestone double ever

It had already been achieved twelve times, by a total of ten riders: winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year. But never before has a rider completed that double with such dominance as Mathieu van der Poel.

Heiri Suter was the first 101 years ago, in 1923. He was later followed by Romain Gijssels (1932), Gaston Rebry (1934), Raymond Impanis (1954), Fred De Bruyne (1957), Rik Van Looy (1962), Roger De Vlaeminck (1977), Peter van Petegem (2003) , Tom Boonen (2005 and 2012) and Fabian Cancellara (2010 and 2013). A list of iconic figures, surprisingly without Eddy Merckx and Johan Museeuw. It shows that the double is not that easy to achieve, even for the best rider ever and one of the greatest cobblestone specialists in cycling history.

Mathieu van der Poel, as the second reigning world champion after Van Looy in 1962, joined that list last Sunday with his second consecutive victory in the Hell Classicafter he was earlier third Tour of Flanders had won. If he had not collided with Tadej Pogacar in ‘Flanders Most Beautiful’ last year, he would have even completed the double two years in a row.

But even his second place (Round 2023), first place (Paris-Roubaix 2023) and two first places (2024) in four consecutive cobblestone events are already very exceptional. A series that only Tom Boonen achieved in 2005 and 2006, with two victories in the Tour of Flanders and a first and second place in Paris-Roubaix.

Boonen achieved his first double in 2005, and his second in 2012, but not with such dominance as Mathieu van der Poel. He rode away alone in the Tour, on the Koppenberg, 44.8 kilometers before the finish, and in Paris-Roubaix already 59.7 kilometers from the finish line, on the Chemin des Prières in Orchies. Together 104.5 kilometers, good for 2 hours, 22 minutes and 47 seconds in the attack.

Mathieu van der Poel, alone on his way to victory in Paris-Roubaix 2024. © BELGA

None of the ten aforementioned ‘doubles’ were able to perform such long solos during their victories, not in one of the two classics, and not in total. Fabian Cancellara came closest, by riding away alone at 15 kilometers from the finish in the 2010 Tour, and in Paris-Roubaix at 46.3 kilometers from the finish – a total of 61.3 kilometers, more than 43 less than Van der Poel.

Tom Boonen pulled off a longer solo in Hel in 2012 (53.2 kilometers), but won the Tour of Flanders that year in a sprint with three. The Kempen native then picked a four-leaf clover with victories in the E3 Harelbeke, Ghent-Wevelgem, the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix. ‘MvdP’ almost did the same, but bumped into Mads Pedersen in Wevelgem.

Record lead

Not only are the solo distances of Mathieu van der Poel’s two victories unique, that is also his lead. In the Tour 1 minute and 2 seconds, in Paris-Roubaix even exactly 3 minutes. Of all the doubles players in the past, only Fabian Cancellara had managed, in 2010, to win both cobblestone monuments in the same year by more than a minute ahead: by 1 minute and 15 seconds and exactly 2 minutes respectively, together 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

Only Gaston Rebry is even higher in terms of total lead. But the West Flemish man owed that to his lead of 4 minutes and 16 seconds in the 1934 Tour. He won Paris-Roubaix by just 5 seconds ahead of Jean Wauters.

Also striking: in Van der Poel’s three victories (the Tour of 2024, Paris-Roubaix of 2023 and 2024), he also improved the speed record each time.

Mathieu van der Poel during his solo in the Tour of Flanders. © IMAGO/SW Pix

Conclusion: no one has ever dominated two, and even four editions of the cobblestone monuments, as much as Mathieu van der Poel. With the nuance that his biggest announced opponent, Wout van Aert, literally dropped out in Dwars door Vlaanderen and Tadej Pogacar stayed away from the Tour this time.

Extra dessert for Van der Poel’s Alpecin-Deceuninck team: a unique ‘double double’ in Paris-Roubaix. After the Dutchman, Jasper Philipsen finished second in 2023 and 2024. The same teammates who occupied the first two places in the Hell Classic two years in a row, that had also never happened, not even in all the classic monuments of cycling.

Also read: How Mathieu van der Poel and Lotte Kopecky learned to enjoy themselves, and thus win even more

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