“It leaves mixed feelings”: Wout van Aert Reflects on His 13th Silver at Major Championships

By Monica Buck

‘We underestimated how much he had left,’ said a contemplative Wout Van Aert, summing up his feelings about finishing second behind Christophe Laporte at the recent UEC Road European Championships. This event marked Van Aert’s 13th silver at a major championship, solidifying his reputation for near wins.

Van Aert has claimed silver at various prestigious competitions: the Olympic Games (one), Cyclocross Worlds (four), Road Worlds (four), European Cyclocross Championships (two), and Belgian Nationals (one). He holds an impressive collection of golds as well, underscoring his immense talent and consistent performance.

At the UEC Road European Championships, Van Aert and teammate Arnaud De Lie closely trailed Laporte, who had launched an attack 12km from the finish. Despite their best efforts, the duo fell just short.

Van Aert shared his post-race reflections with Het Nieuwsblad: “I agreed with De Lie that we would draw my card. I think he felt that I was the better of the two. That was a good decision. But Arnaud chased so hard – which was necessary to close the gap – that I couldn’t get out of Laporte’s wheel. We underestimated how much he had left at the end.”

He further analyzed the final moments, acknowledging that despite their strategic moves, they should have taken the lead instead of Laporte. He asserted that they “didn’t really do anything wrong,” yet the need for preemptive action was clear.

Amidst the competition, De Lie secured the fourth place, standing just behind the bronze medallist, Olav Kooij from the Netherlands. Despite his commendable debut, he pondered the possibility of a different outcome. He recounted his conversation with Van Aert, saying, “I talked to Wout 5km from the finish. I said, ‘It’s for you’. It was a good opportunity to give him a nice title, but unfortunately, he finished second behind a super-strong Laporte.”

De Lie expressed uncertainties but accepted the realities of racing dynamics, acknowledging the possibility that they might have initiated the sprint prematurely.

The race’s conclusion added another second-place finish to Van Aert’s record, marking his eighth this season and the 20th over the past two years. Van Aert, ruminating on his consistent runner-up status, expressed his “mixed feelings.” Despite the continued near-victories, his commitment to winning remains unwavering.

“I didn’t think about it during the race, but it’s an observation I can’t deny,” Van Aert expressed his thoughts on his consistent silver placements. Despite the bittersweet emotions, his resolution is unshaken, confidently asserting that things will change in future competitions.

CC Europe RR, 2023 | Men

1. LAPORTE Christophe, France, 04:15:50
2. VAN AERT Wout, Belgium, +00
3. KOOIJ Olav, Netherlands, +00
4. DE LIE Arnaud, Belgium, +01
5. TEUNISSEN Mike, Netherlands, +09
6. TILLER Rasmus, Norway, +09
7. PEDERSEN Mads, Denmark, +13
8. DEGENKOLB John, Germany, +15
9. KRON Andreas, Denmark, +39
10. SÉNÉCHAL Florian, France, +41