Wout van Aert breaks into top tier with huge Dauphiné win – with video

Posted on: June 13th, 2019

Wout van Aert has shown great potential for the past couple of years on the road. But now he’s taken his first major pro win.

While the biggest story in pro cycling yesterday was the crash that has ruled Chris Froome out of the Tour de France, Wout van Aert had the biggest day of his road career.

He’s a former world champion in cyclocross and having impressed on the road in recent seasons yesterday was his first WorldTour win.

Indeed, because the now 24-year-old was not competing at WorldTour level until this season, he has ridden relatively few WorldTour races so far in his career.

During yesterday’s TT, some 26.1km in Roanne with a climb on the course, Van Aert was a full 31 seconds faster than the next best; Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First).

Former world TT champion Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) was 3rd, a full 47 seconds down on the winner.

In the points jersey at Criterium du Dauphine

Yesterday’s winner Van Aert said because cyclocross and TTs don’t mix, he had never focused on improving against the clock.

“I knew I could do good time trials, but I never really focused on it because of my cyclocross duties,” said.

“The team focuses on this discipline and that makes a big difference,” Van Aert added of his new WorldTour team.

“This was my first time trial in the colours of Team Jumbo-Visma and I immediately won the race.

“It is also my first WorldTour victory. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.”

Sprinting in for 3rd place on the opening stage in France on Sunday, right in Jumbo-Visma yellow

Van Aert gained most time on his rivals on the section of the course after the climb, which was crested some 11.5km into the stage.

While there was still 14.6km to go, most of that was downhill and with a tailwind. It meant that section of the test was shorter in time and yet Van Aert made significant gains there.

That shows he rode the climb very solidly; fastest of all the riders at the top. Yet he had more left in the tank to kick on and extend his lead.

He had also finished 2nd in the bunch sprint the previous day, won by Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe).

Furthermore, he was 3rd on the opening stage, which ended in a sprint from a 61-rider bunch.

Highlights of yesterday’s stage 4 TT in France

The only fly in the ointment was losing time on stage 2; finishing a lowly 26th in a group 1:49 down.

However, while well down overall he leads the points classification. His first WorldTour victory was impressive because of the winning margin.

But the win also came against the watch, which is not a speciality of his, against quality opposition.

It also came just a day after he was confirmed on the Jumbo-Visma line-up for the Tour, a race he will go into with huge confidence.

It was Van Aert’s first win on the road since last August when he claimed a stage and the overall at the Tour of Denmark; his only win that year in a 14-race season.

Van Aert rode his first WorldTour race in 2017 – the seven-stage BinckBank Tour – when riding for ProContinental team Vérandas Willems-Crelan.

He was 37th overall and his best ride was 14th in the 9km TT on stage 2 of the race. The test was won by Stefan Kung and the overall by Tom Dumoulin.

Claiming 2nd place in the bunch sprint that settled Tuesday’s stage 3, won by Sam Bennett

Last season, when competing in the colours of the same ProContinental team Vérandas Willems-Crelan, Van Aert competed in six WorldTour events, all of them one-day races.

He was 32nd in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite, 3rd in Strade Bianchi, 10th in Gent-Wevelgem, 83rd in Dwars door Vlaanderen-A travers la Flandre, 9th in the Tour of Flanders and 13th in Paris-Roubaix.

This year, having moved up to WorldTour level with Jumbo Visma, all the races he has ridden so far have been WorldTour events.

In Critérium du Dauphiné he has his TT win, at Amstel Gold he was 58th and at Paris-Roubaix he finished in 22nd place.

Van Aert was 14th in the Tour of Flanders, 29th in Gent Wevelgem and finished 2nd in the E3 BinckBank Classic,

He was also 6th in Milan-Sanremo, 3rd in Strade Bianche and opened his season with 13th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite.

Yesterday he said he was very surprised to win, adding he “didn’t think it was possible at this level”. However, his expectations have now been raised to a whole new level.

Interview after stage 4 TT win