‘Not a bad start to the experiment’ - Wout van Aert wants to race for overall wins again after Tirreno-Adriatico podium

The Belgian star showed his versatility once again, taking stage victories and beating Tour de France champions 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert said Tirreno-Adriatico was “not a bad start” to his general classification experiment.

The Jumbo-Visma star was dominant in the week-long Italian stage race, winning a bunch sprint, the final time trial, and beating Tour de France winners in the GC.

Van Aert, 26, finished second overall behind reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), but said he will try again for a stage race victory.

Speaking after the stage seven time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, Van Aert said: “This was the first time I went for the GC in a stage race. I am only beaten by the winner of the Tour de France. So I can say it is not a bad start of this experiment. We will try this more often in the future.

“For now the classics are the main goal. I am looking forward to competing for wins in the various monuments. I know from last year that I recover pretty well after a tough race.

“That gives me confidence going into Milan-San Remo this Saturday. I will try to defend my title, but I am not the only favourite."

The Belgian stunned on the opening stage of the 2021 Tirreno-Adriatico as he beat pure sprinters like Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) to the line in Lido di Camaiore.

Van Aert lost his race lead on stage four to Prati di Tivo, the only summit finish of the race, as Pogačar stormed to stage victory and moved into the top spot on GC.

The fifth stage to Castelfidardo came down to a fascinating battle, as Van Aert’s great rival Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) rode away to an unforgettable solo victory and Pogačar gave chase to extend his advantage over Van Aert.

Heading into the final GC test, the short 10km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, Van Aert was second on GC, 1-15 behind Pogacar.

He delivered another surprise in the TT as he beat the world champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and European champion Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) to the stage win, but wasn’t able to overturn his deficit to Pogačar.

On his TT performance, Van Aert said: “I am very happy with this victory and with my second place in the general classification.

“This was the ideal scenario for today. We rode around yesterday with this day in mind already. It's great to end the week like this. I am getting better and better at this discipline every year.

“Last winter we did a lot to improve our time trial. It gives me a lot of confidence that I can win in the first time trial of the year. The field was very strong. Almost all top time trialists were at the start here. I felt very good this week in the Tirreno."

Tirreno-Adriatico was the first GC test for Van Aert, as his team want to see how far he can take his talent.

>>> Five things we learned from Tirreno-Adriatico 2021

Jumbo-Visma said Van Aert, a former cyclocross world champion, Monument winner and Belgian TT champion, continues to amaze them as he beat Tour de France champions overall in Tirreno.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.