Wout van Aert accomplishes bucket list dream with time trial victory but plays it cool on Tour de France GC ambitions

The Belgian made it three wins in 20 stages for Jumbo-Visma

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty)

Wout van Aert ticked off a lifelong dream by winning a Tour de France time trial on stage 20 of the 2021 edition.

The Belgian was the fastest on a largely flat 30.8km course in southwestern France, with Kasper Asgreen his closest challenger 21 seconds back.

It is Van Aert's second victory of this race and fifth in his career, having previously won three sprint stages in the past two editions.

The 26-year-old said in Saint-Émilion: "It means a lot winning a Tour de France time trial and it's an achievement that was actually on my bucket list.

"I tried it a few times now but today is the day it finally worked. I was really focused on this day in the last week and I am really happy I finished the fastest."

The Jumbo-Visma rider joins a very small group of riders to have won on such varied terrain in the Tour.

His win on stage 11 that included two ascents of Mont Ventoux pointed to a potential future bid at the race's general classification, but the former cyclocross world champion preferred to reflect on his successes in the past week rather than being drawn into future prospects.

"I have won a bunch sprint, a mountain stage last week and now a time trial which is three very different things," he said. 

"This one is special but the atmosphere and way I won in Malaucène [on stage 11] was really making me emotional. I think the Ventoux stage was more special.

"I didn't look to the GC too much but I was quite far behind and obviously I didn't go full on every stage.

"But some stages I was and I was always a few minutes behind the fastest climber. If I target the GC at one point, I have to improve my climbing a lot.

"At this point in my career I want to focus on my strengths I have now and first on my list are winning a lot of Classics that are still missing."

The Tour finishes on Sunday on the Champs-Élysées and even though the Olympics road race and time trial are on the horizon, Van Aert will be racing in Paris for his third victory in 10 stages.

"I am very satisfied but I am also still motivated for tomorrow," he added. "It's special because it's a sprint on Champs-Élysées which is really iconic and even just being on the podium in Paris is something special and I don't want to miss out on any possibility in my career to win a stage there.

"Even after last year after a rough Saturday, we tried and we will definitely try again tomorrow."

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