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Belgium's 'Sportsman of the Year' prize goes to Wout van Aert

Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert wins stage 7 of the 2020 Tour de France
Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert wins stage 7 of the 2020 Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Wout van Aert has another trophy to add to his growing collection, this time receiving the overwhelming majority of votes as the Sportsman of the Year in Belgium.

The voting for the 26-year-old road and cyclo-cross rider was not a close race, as he received nearly double the points than footballer Romelu Lukaku, 1,049 to 526. Third in the voting with 441 points was Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who won the award last year.

“I am very proud of this trophy. It was a special year. Without compromising other prizes, I think I can say that this is the biggest prize you can win as an athlete,” said Van Aert, a three-time cyclo-cross world champion, in a report by Wielerflits.

In the Sportswoman of the Year category, Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies) finished third in the voting.

This year as the national time trial champion, Van Aert performed well on the road with four podiums, including two stage wins, at the 2020 Tour de France, a stage win and points classification title at Critérium du Dauphiné and wins at Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo. He was also the silver medalist for the road race and TT at the Worlds in Imola.

Taking both national crowns this year for the TT and road race, the 25-year-old Kopecky had three podiums, including a stage win, at this year’s Giro Rosa. She also took second at Gent-Wevelgem and had a pair of third-place finishes at Bruges-De Panne and the Tour of Flanders.

The nation’s top honour for athletes has been handed out since 1967, and also includes recognition for coaches, teams and Paralympic athletes. While all sports are considered in voting by members of the Belgian Professional Association of Sports Journalists and past winners, men’s cycling has the most individual winners with 21. Eddy Merckx has the most individual titles for men with six, while tennis star Kim Clijsters has the most titles for women with eight.

Earlier this week, Van Aert was also named this year’s recipient of the Kristallen Fiets, the crystal bicycle as the best rider of the year in Belgium. 

In November, Van Aert retained the 'Flandrien of the year' award handed out by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, while Kopecky won top honors for women.