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Wout van Aert given hero’s welcome in Belgium after Tour de France success

Tour de France 2022 - 109th Edition - 18th stage Lourdes - Hautacam 143 km - 21/07/2022 - Wout Van Aert (BEL - Team Jumbo - Visma) - photo Nico Vereecken/PN/SprintCyclingAgency©2022
(Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Wout van Aert was given a hero's welcome when he returned to Belgium to ride the Roeselare criterium on Tuesday evening, with 35,000 Flemish cycling fans cheering his name as he took on Tom Pidcock, Yves Lampaert and others in a short time trial and circuit race.

Wout van Aert won three stages at the Tour de France, set a new record in green jersey points classification and played a massive role in Jonas’ Vingegaard’s overall victory. He was voted the most combative rider of the Tour.

His success earned even more appreciation from the Flemish fans, who have watched him develop from a young cyclo-cross rider to Classics contender to now being known as best rider in the world. 

Van Aert spent most of Tuesday at the Jumbo-Visma service course in the Netherlands, celebrating with the team’s sponsors and staff. He flew by helicopter so he could ride in the evening Roeselare criterium and realise the impact of his Tour de France success.

“This is very special. An entrance like that: I'm not used to that,” Van Aert told VTM Nieuws. 

“Now I realise all the more how crazy the Tour has been. As long as you're part of the circus, you don't notice it too much but when you return home to Belgium, it is still very special.” 

Lampaert beat Van Aert to win the criterium, with the Jumbo-Visma rider admitting he was tired after an intense three weeks of racing. However he faces another week of racing before some time off. 

He is due to ride his home criterium in Herentals on Thursday and then head to Spain for the Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa on Saturday. He will ride the Draai van de Kaai criterium in Roosendaal on Monday before taking a break. 

He is expected to train at altitude in August and then ride the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal in Canada in early September as a stepping stone to the World Championships in Australia. 

“Wout wanted to race San Sebastian,” his entourage told VTM Nieuws. 

“He is curious how well he can do there, he hopes to cash in on his top form of the Tour. He won't really train this week but he will ride his bike every day and the criteriums help him maintain his leg speed.”

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