Wout van Aert: Tabor World Cup podium was down to guts and perseverance

Belgian Wout Van Aert crosses the finish line at the men elite race at the cyclocross cycling event in Tabor Czech Republic the first stage of the World Cup cyclocross competition Sunday 29 November 2020 BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
Van Aert at the opening round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Tabor on Sunday (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout van Aert returned to cyclo-cross this weekend with a pair of podium finishes in Kortrijk and then the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup opener in Tabor, solid results competing in a field full of riders who have been racing for well over a month already.

On Saturday, after finishing third at Urban Cross in Kortrijk, the second round of the X2O Trofee, the Jumbo-Visma all-rounder said that he suffered during the race, his first action since taking second at the Tour of Flanders in October.

Starting from further back in the pack, Van Aert could float up the field as the race progressed, saving energy as he rode in the slipstream of other riders, he said.

"I suffered," he told Sporza after Saturday's race. "I made a good decision by keeping a low profile in the first half of the race but when I passed the second lap, I could feel the difference between following and making my own race.

"I took so much advantage of being in someone's wake. That way I could move forward through the field smoothly."

Holding back a little at the start meant he could go harder in the final laps, battling Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise Lions) for a podium spot.

"I'd have definitely signed up for this result beforehand. I didn't expect this. Though I have to be honest, the flat tyres from Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts also played a role.

"Every race has a story, but it's nice to be on the podium right away."

He'd repeat the feat on Sunday in Tabor, having taken a private jet from Belgium to the Czech Republic for the race, along with several other riders.

His performance, at least by the numbers, improved a day late, finishing 12 seconds behind winner Vanthourenhout as European champion Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) took second.

Once again, Van Aert was forced to make up ground at the start before fighting for top positions in the closing laps. Rather than being in any semblance of top form, though, he said that it was grit and perseverance that were to thank for his end result.

"I was on the limit for the entire race," he said after the race. "I had to chase in the beginning, but I was fast.

"In the end, a little bit of guts and perseverance emerges, and that's how I got to the podium. But to win, there has to be something to go with that. This was more like character – it was really fighting."

Today's best Cyber Monday deals

Today's cycling-related highlights from the Cyber Monday sales. For even more, view our guide to the best Cyber Monday bike deals where you'll find on all things cycling, including bikes, helmets, clothing and more. 

Today's best deals: USA

Today's best deals: UK

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.