Wout van Aert expresses 'a mixture of emotions' after securing his 13th silver medal at a significant championship.


Wout van Aert expresses ‘a mixture of emotions’ after securing his 13th silver medal at a significant championship.

We underestimated the reserves he had left,” remarked a Belgian cyclist in reference to Christophe Laporte’s victory at the European Championships.

Wout Van Aert added yet another silver medal to his extensive collection during Sunday’s UEC Road European Championships. He clinched second place behind his trade teammate, Christophe Laporte, as they conquered the Col de VAM.

Van Aert’s impressive silver tally now spans across various championships, including the Olympic Games (one), Cyclocross Worlds (four), Road Worlds (four), European Cyclocross Championships (two), and Belgian Nationals (one), all complemented by a significant number of gold medals.

In a thrilling race, Van Aert led a determined chase group that nearly caught up to Laporte, who had launched an attack 12km from the finish line. Alongside his teammate Arnaud De Lie, Van Aert pushed hard in their pursuit but fell just short of overtaking the eventual champion at the finish line.

Arnaud put in an immense effort, which was essential to close the gap, but it kept me glued to Laporte’s wheel. In hindsight, we underestimated the reserves he had left for the final push,” Van Aert analyzed.

Discussing the final race tactics, Van Aert commented that his Belgian team had executed their strategy well and couldn’t pinpoint any major errors. However, he did acknowledge that either he or De Lie should have taken the initiative, rather than Laporte.

“It should have been De Lie or me leading the charge, not Laporte,” he emphasized. “Beyond that, our race plan was sound, and Laporte rode shrewdly to ensure he had something left in reserve.”

As for De Lie, he secured fourth place behind the bronze medalist, Olav Kooij from the Netherlands. This race marked his professional debut at a World or European Championships, and the 21-year-old left a strong impression, prompting speculation about whether he might have been a better choice for Belgium instead of Van Aert.

“It was incredibly challenging towards the end,” De Lie recounted to Het Nieuwsblad. “I spoke to Wout 5km from the finish and told him, ‘This one’s for you.’ It presented a golden opportunity to secure him a prestigious title, but unfortunately, he finished second behind the incredibly strong Laporte.

“In hindsight, I might have had the strength to win, but one can never be certain. Perhaps we initiated the sprint a tad prematurely, but such is the nature of racing.”

Irrespective of the hypothetical scenarios, Van Aert found himself in a familiar position, securing yet another second-place finish – his eighth of the season and 20th in the past two years. Later, Van Aert contemplated his “mixed feelings” after yet another runner-up result.

“I didn’t dwell on it during the race, but it’s an observation I can’t ignore,” he confessed regarding his collection of silver medals. “Of course, it’s on my mind. I always aim to win every race, and that’s how I approached today’s race.

“It leaves me with conflicting emotions. On one hand, it’s gratifying that I’m consistently in contention, but this year, I haven’t quite reached the top. I remain confident that the future holds a different outcome.




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