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. 

>>> How do Tour de France time cuts work? 

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.” 

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

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

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

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 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.