Wout van Aert cherishes 'priceless' Paris Tour de France win despite putting Olympic flight in jeopardy

The Belgian worries all the interviews and podium ceremonies could thwart his flight to Tokyo just four hours after finishing the Tour

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty)

Wout van Aert not only disrupted what would have been a fairytale finish to Mark Cavendish's comeback Tour de France, the Manx sprinter needing one more win to take him to a record-breaking 35 stage wins, but the Belgian national champion may have also put a spanner in the works of his own travel plans.

Like many other riders, Van Aert was planning on taking a flight out to Tokyo for the upcoming Olympic Games a mere four hours after finishing on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and now faces a rush to get through the ceremonial duties that come with winning a Tour stage in order to get to Charles de Gaulle airport in time.

"I guess I've put myself in trouble because I've got to catch a flight tonight and all these interviews will take a while I guess. We'll see if I can get there," Van Aert said after the finish.

Should he make it, he'll have the whole long-haul flight to let what he's achieved this Tour sink in. Victory on the Mont Ventoux stage, the stage 20 time trial won and now victorious on the Champs-Élysées. The last rider to achieve wins on the flat, in the mountains and against the clock in the same Tour was Bernard Hinault in 1979, a feat also accomplished by Eddy Merckx a few years earlier.

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"No actually not, this Tour has just been amazing," Van Aert said as to whether he could believe he'd just won in Paris. "[This Tour has] been such a rollercoaster, but to finish it off like this, phwoar.

"It's definitely not a pity I went for it today because a victory like this is priceless. Thanks to my incredible, small team [only four Jumbo-Visma riders have finished the race] and Mike Teunissen delivered me in perfect position."

Van Aert says that the altered finish line, having been moved further up out of the corner, gave riders like him a better chance of taking the victory.

"There was more chance for a team like us to still come up in the corner and I was fully confident that Mikey was going to deliver me in the right position," Van Aert explained. "I just had to hold his wheel and it was just a world-class lead out today, hats off [to him]."

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.