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Wout van Aert wins Belgian men's road title

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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Edward Theuns of Belgium Wout Van Aert of Belgium sprint at arrival during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the sprint ahead of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Belgian Wout Van Aert of Team JumboVisma Belgian Edward Theuns of TrekSegafredo and Belgian Remco Evenepoel of Deceuninck QuickStep pictured in action during the mens elite race at the Belgian cycling championships a 2202km race in Waregem Sunday 20 June 2021BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Van Aert, Evenepoel and Theuns on the attack late on (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 during the 2021 Belgian national championship cycling race elite men with start and finish in Waregem on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium 20062021 Photo by Peter De Voecht motordriver Kenny Verfaillie Photonews Photo by POOL PETER DE VOECHTBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Evenepoel on the move (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Wout Van Aert of Belgium Remco Evenepoel of Belgium Edward Theuns of Belgium in breakaway during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

The leading trio (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Wout Van Aert of Team JumboVisma R wins before Edward Theuns of TrekSegafredo L the sprint at the finish of the mens elite race at the Belgian cycling championship a 2202km race in Waregem on June 20 2021 Belgium OUT Photo by DAVID STOCKMAN BELGA AFP Belgium OUT Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGAAFP via Getty Images

Edward Theuns and Wout van Aert lunge for the line (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Edward Theuns of Belgium Wout Van Aert of Belgium sprint at arrival during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Edward Theuns and Wout van Aert lunge for the line (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Wout Van Aert of Belgium stage winner celebrates at arrival during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Wout Van Aert of Belgium Gold Medal Belgian Champion Jersey celebrates at podium during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) on the podium with the Belgian title (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Edward Theuns of Belgium Silver medal Wout Van Aert of Belgium Gold Medal Belgian Champion Jersey Remco Evenepoel of Belgium Bronze medal celebrates at podium during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Edward Theuns, Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel on the podium (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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WAREGEM BELGIUM JUNE 20 Edward Theuns of Belgium Silver medal Wout Van Aert of Belgium Gold Medal Belgian Champion Jersey Remco Evenepoel of Belgium Bronze medal celebrates at podium during the 122th Belgian Road Championship 2021 Mens Road Race a 2213km one day race from Waregem to Waregem BELCycling belgiancycling on June 20 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Edward Theuns, Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel on the podium (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout van Aert captured the Belgian road title for the first time in his career on Sunday afternoon. He took victory in a three-man sprint from Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep). It was his first race since winning the Amstel Gold Race on April 18 and his appendix operation halfway through May.

"It's one of the most beautiful jerseys in the peloton. Obviously I wanted to win it one day. I want to dedicate this victory to my buddy Small who lost the battle against bone cancer last month. A lot of things happened recently but it doesn't mean much if something like that happens. I had to think a lot about him the past few weeks. I had to fight to come here and race. I want to thank him for giving me that power today," Van Aert said.

Van Aert appeared in front during the penultimate of four local laps of 16km. The small lead group with Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was caught back and the peloton headed to the 1km long Holstraat climb. Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) anticipated the climb but Edward Theuns neutralized his effort and brought the peloton back.

At the top of the climb with 24km to go, the same spot where Lotte Kopecky attacked in the women's race, Van Aert blasted away with Remco Evenepoel on his wheel. Men like Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos) and Tiesj Benoot (Team DSM) failed to close the gap straight away in a combined effort but Theuns managed to bridge up solo at 22km from the finish. Alpecin-Fenix was unable to control the strong lead group and the three would battle for the victory. Van Aert marked two attempts from Evenepoel to sneak away and in the sprint he kept Theuns in check.

"It was a difficult finale. Edward Theuns bridged up with me but didn't want to co-operate. I wanted to bank on my sprint but I was carrying the race with Remco Evenepoel. It seems like I'm always doing close sprints. I'm glad the photo finish was clear," Van Aert laughed.

"It sounds ridiculous after a victory but there's certainly room for improvement. Today I had to undergo the race and bide my time. I rode several championships where it didn't work out well. Today I managed to get into the right breakaway move. Due to circumstances this is a very pleasing victory. The Tour de France is very different to this race but I had doubts and now I can head to the Tour with confidence and show the tricolor jersey."

Third-placed Evenepoel showed disappointment although he knew he wouldn't stand a chance in the sprint.

"If I wanted to win I had to reach the finish alone. Those two are two real classics specialists so on a short climb I'm not explosive enough to drop them. The level at the Belgian championships is so high and on a course like this one it's even harder for me. Podium in the ITT and today is nice but tomorrow nobody remembers who finished on the podium," Evenepoel said.

Runner-up Theuns skipped most of the work in the lead group but still he was unable to mark the speed and power of Van Aert in the sprint.

"It was the chance of my life to win the Belgian title. I'm super disappointed. It's been a few difficult weeks for me. I'm riding so strong and still the team doubts whether to take me to the Tour or not. I think I showed what I can do by closing the gap on these two giants on my own. I knew it would be difficult but I believed that I would be able to beat Van Aert.

"I hoped to come out of his wheel but I quickly came next to him. I didn't dare to shift up one more time. I banked on my jump because I know he's had some problems there," Theuns laughed. "Due to corona the team wasn't allowed to take the start in the races that suit me the best, Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem, so I wasn't able to show my form as much as I wanted," Theun told Sporza.

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) started the sprint from far out in the peloton but the trio was too far away to grab a second title. Eventually it was Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) who won the sprint in the peloton ahead of Milan Menten (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB) and Merlier.

How it unfolded

The peloton rolled out of Waregem at noon for 221 kilometres of mostly flat racing, with three loops which each had to be covered four times. Nobody got away during a first hour of flat out racing with an average of 48.8km/h.

A small lead group put Alpecin-Fenix under pressure in the mid-part of the race. The four leaders were Kenny Molly (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauzen WB), team-mates Brent Van Moer and Tosh Van der Sande from Lotto-Soudal and Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck - Quick-Step). The four leaders collected a maximum bonus of six minutes on the peloton after 100km of racing.

The large Alpecin-Fenix team received some support from the Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise team and slowly the gap came back down, still averaging 46km/h during the first three hours of racing. The pace in the peloton increased even more on the four final local laps with attacks constantly being fired around by big guns like Campenaerts, Benoot and Theuns.

Next up was Yves Lampaert who was joined by defending champion Dries De Bondt. The duo bridged up to the four leaders but never gained more than a minute on the peloton where Alpecin-Fenix kept working.

During the penultimate lap, at 28km from the finish, everything was back together when riding over the cobbles of the Herlegemstraat and approaching the Holstraat climb where the race would be decided.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 4:40:41
2Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
3Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:01
4Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:05
5Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
6Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
7Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
10Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
11Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
12Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
13Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
14Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
15Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
16Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
17Gilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
18Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
19Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
20Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
21Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
22Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
23Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
24Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
25Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
26Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM
27Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
28Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
29Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
30Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
31Fabio Van Den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
32Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
33Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
34Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
35Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
36Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
37Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
38Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal
39Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:13
40Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:00:16
41Sander Armée (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
42Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
43Gianni Marchand (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
44Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
45Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:19
46Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
47Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo
48Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:00:27
49Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
50Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB 0:00:34
51Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:00:40
52Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
53Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB 0:01:42
54Jules Hesters (Bel) Beat Cycling
55Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:01:50
56Jens Reynders (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
57Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
58Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:54
59Eliot Lietaer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
60Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
61Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
62Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:58
63Michiel Stockman (Bel) Team SKS Sauerland NRW 0:03:48
64Ruben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
65Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:04:26
66Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:05:21
67Viktor Verschaeve (Bel) Lotto Soudal
68Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
69Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
70Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
71Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
72Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
73Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Evopro Racing
74Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
75Julian Mertens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
76Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
77Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
78Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
79Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Soudal
80Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
81Jacob Relaes (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
82Jeroen Eyskens (Bel) Evopro Racing
83Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
84Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
85Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
86Lennert Teugels (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
87Lander Loockx (Bel)
88Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:06:45
89Toon Vandebosch (Bel) 0:07:22
90Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
91Laurens Huys (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
92Sean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
93Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
94Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
95Thomas Joseph (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
96Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
97Abram Stockman (Bel) Team SKS Sauerland NRW 0:08:11
98Johan Hemroulle (Bel) Xspeed United Continental
99Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal
100Enzo Wouters (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
101Frederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
102Laurens Sweeck (Bel)
103Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
104Boris Vallee (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
105Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
106Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix Development Team
107Maxime De Poorter (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
108Alex Colman (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
109Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
110Tom Meeusen (Bel)
111Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
112Sasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
113Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
114Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
115Stefano Museeuw (Bel) Beat Cycling
116Toon Aerts (Bel)
117Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
118Henri Vandenabeele (Bel) Team DSM
119Jordy Bouts (Bel) Beat Cycling
120Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
121Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
122Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:09:38
DNFThijs Aerts (Bel)
DNFJens Adams (Bel)
DNFNiels Verdijck (Bel) Eurocyclingtrips-CMI Pro Cycling
DNFSeppe Rombouts (Bel) LVIV Cycling Team
DNFMathias De Witte (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
DNFMaximilien Picoux (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
DNFNiels Merckx (Bel)
DNFDoron Wiggins (Bel) Xspeed United Continental
DNFSenne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFNiels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFEli Iserbyt (Bel)
DNFMichael Vanthourenhout (Bel)
DNFSimon Daniels (Bel) Xspeed United Continental
DNFJasper De Plus (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFJonas Castrique (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
DNFRemy Mertz (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
DNFQuentin Venner (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFMehdi Tigrine (Bel) Kuwait Pro Cycling Team
DNFDiether Sweeck (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFRobbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFGil D´Heygere (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFStijn De Bock (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFAlfdan De Decker (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFElias Van Breussegem (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFBrent Van De Kerkhove (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFThibau Verhofstadt (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFBen Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFAyco Bastiaens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNSSander De Pestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNSJelle Vanendert (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
DNSDaan Soete (Bel)
DNSQuinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

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