Van Aert and Kopecky win 2020 Flandrien of the year

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has retained the 'Flandrien of the year' award handed out by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, beating Deceunink-QuickStep duo Remco Evenepoel Yves Lampaert into second and third place.

Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal) won the women's award, beating Jolien D'Hoore (Boels Dolmans) and taking over from 2019 winner Sophie De Vuyst.

Van Aert's victory was clear, with 637 points to Evenepoel's 475 after a year which saw him among the top performers of the men's peloton.

The 26-year-old won Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, the Belgian time trial title, two stages at the Tour de France as well as a stage and the points classification at the Critérium du Dauphiné and two silver medals at the Imola Worlds.

"I would never vote for myself if I think someone else deserves it more," Van Aert told Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab). "Last year I put Philippe Gilbert at number one because he won Paris-Roubaix. I'm proud of my achievements, so I didn't mind voting for myself.

"I rediscovered my body this year. When I won Strade I was super happy with my form. I would never have dared to think that it would continue all the way up to and including the Tour of Flanders. I'm proud that I've been able to maintain that level mentally and physically."

In addition to his numerous big victories, Van Aert was also a star super-domestique at the Tour de France, surprisingly riding at the front of the peloton deep into mountain stages. He said that those rides were where he surprised himself in 2020.

"When I finished third in the last mountain stage of the Tour," he said. "Had you told me before this season that I would one day win Milan-San Remo, I would've believed it. But had you said, 'you will be third in a mountain stage in the third week of the Tour among all the top GC riders', I would have laughed it off."

Kopecky also had a strong showing during the truncated 2020 season, taking three victories and six podium placings along the way. To win the award, she took 187 points to D'Hoore's 155, while Shari Bossuyt (NXTG Racing) was third on 84 points.

The 25-year-old won her national time trial and road race titles, as well as a stage of the Giro Rosa, and was on the podium at Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, among other races.

"It's a great reward for my season," she told Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab). "I had a consistent season – from the first to the last Classic I performed at a high level. I think I can say that.

"At the start of the road season, that first lockdown allowed me to take a solid break which allowed me to recharge both physically and mentally.

"I would like to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix one day. This season, Roubaix was cancelled. I've already explored the route though, and I think it suits me. I can't wait to go back on stage in January with my new Women's WorldTour team, Liv Racing."


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