Tour de France 2021: Wout van Aert says Mont Ventoux stage might be his best ever victory

Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem, Strade Bianche, three cyclocross World Championships, but does Ventoux top them all?

Wout van Aert takes stage 11 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert says victory on the Mont Ventoux stage of the 2021 Tour de France may be the best win of his career.

All-round superstar Van Aert jumped into the breakaway during the brutal stage 11, which featured two ascents of the iconic Ventoux, eventually dropping his rivals to take a remarkable solo victory.

The win,  on one of the toughest days of this year’s Tour, came just one day after Van Aert finished second in a bunch sprint behind Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), cementing his position as one of the most exciting all-round talents in cycling.

Speaking after his victory in Malaucène, Van Aert said: “I’m lost for words, it’s so stupid to say. I didn’t expect to win this stage before the Tour de France, but yesterday I already believed in it.

“I asked the team to be the guy to go for the breakaways. It’s one of the most iconic climbs in the Tour, in the world - maybe it’s my best victory ever.”

It was a hard-earned victory by the Jumbo-Visma rider, as his team have suffered a lot of misfortune in this year’s race, including losing their general classification leader Primož Roglič in the first week after his injuries in a crash, with Robert Gesink and Tony Martin also abandoning the race before Van Aert’s victory.

But the team bounced back on stage 11, taking the stage with Van Aert while their new GC leader Jonas Vingegaard was aggressive on the final ascent of Ventoux and very nearly took time on yellow jersey Tadej Pogačar. 

Van Aert, a winner of Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and a three-time cyclocross world champion, suffered his own setbacks leading into the Tour, suffering from appendicitis and needing surgery that disrupted his training. 

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The 26-year-old said: “It’s emotional. Personally it was really hard to enter this Tour at the proper level. 

“In the first week we had so much bad luck. Today we lost Tony Martin in a crash. This is so nice. Being motivated and keep believing, someday it will work out. 

“I’m really proud.” 

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Alex is the 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 and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has 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 journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.