Van Aert, the world champion, won the Kermiscross in Ardooie in October but hadn't managed to raise his arms aloft since. As fellow young talent Van Der Poel proceeded to turn everything he touched to gold, the Belgian had been forced to settle for second place six races in a row until Bredene.
With Van der Poel and Toon Aerts absent, Van Aert claimed a dominant win, recovering from a fall to finish it off solo.
"It means a lot, yes. It has been a long time since I won, and the jersey I have is not one that should always be chasing," Van Aert said in his post-race interview, according to Sporza. "It was nice to be able to put my hands in the air once again.
"I was not immediately in my pedal, so it was a slow start, but it was not that bad. I was able to connect again quickly. That fall later in the race, just as Jens Adams was pulling through, was more serious. The ground was pretty slippery and my front wheel slipped out. I lost a bit of time, but otherwise nothing went wrong."
Van Aert explained that his victory salute was a nod to Sven Vanthourenhout, whom he surpassed as the record holder at Bredene with a fourth victory at the Belgian race.
"Before the race I received a message from Sven, who said I could break his record," Van Aert said.
"I replied that I had never lost here, so I think he was pretty nervous before the race."