Wout van Aert won the coveted 'Flandrien of the Year' in a vote of team directors and managers and race organizers, beating out Remco Evenepoel by a single point. The Jumbo-Visma rider had a brilliant but short first WorldTour season, landing on the podium at Strade Bianche and the E3 Harelbeke before winning two stages and the green jersey at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Van Aert then won the Belgian time trial title before wearing the white jersey of best young rider and the points jersey at the Tour de France before winning his first Grand Tour stage in Albi on stage 10. His luck ran out when he crashed in the Pau time trial, suffering a severe gash to his leg that required multiple surgeries to fix.
"I am very happy with this prize. I have been lucky enough to join a world-class team. That makes me a better rider," Van Aert said according to Het Laatste Nieuws. "It is already a great honor to finish ahead of Remco Evenepoel, even though he is only 19 years old. Remco is a great champion in the making. During the Clasica (San Sebastian, which Evenepoel won) I was blown away."
Van Aert is back to training after months of rehabilitation of his injury. "I definitely make it a goal to ride 'cross races this winter. That will probably not be at the top level, but it will certainly serve as a good preparation for my spring."
Also nominated for the prize were Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal), who set the Hour Record this year and his teammate Thomas de Gendt for his attacking style that netted him a stage in the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix winner Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and Evenepoel, winner of the Baloise Belgium Tour, European Time Trial title, the Clasica San Sebastian and the silver medal in the elite time trial world championships.
Other awards went to Sophie de Vuyst, winner of the Brabantse Pijl women's race as best female cyclist, De Gendt for 'spark of the year' for his solo Tour stage win, Campenaerts for the best non-road rider, Julie De Wilde, Ilan van Wilder and Dries Verstappen as Flandriens of the future, Dries Devenyns as teammate of the year and Julian Alaphilippe as international Flandrien.
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