Wout van Aert crowned Belgian Sportsman of the Year again

Jumbo-Visma star wins national title for the second year in a row

Wout van Aert
Wout van Aert celebrates his recent victory at Val di Sole in the cyclo-cross world cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert added to his growing trophy cabinet with a second successive win of Belgian Sportsman of the Year on Sunday.

The Jumbo-Visma rider, who is also Belgian national champion on the road and in cyclo-cross, finished ahead of runner and Olympic bronze medallist Bashir Abdi and Matthias Casse, who won Belgium's first ever senior judo title this year.

The competition is organised by Belgian newspaper Sporza. The newspaper reported that he said: "I thought it would be difficult to win again, certainly with this opposition. But that makes it all the more beautiful."

Van Aert had a prolific season, winning 13 races in total, which meant he finished only behind Tadej Pogačar on the UCI's WorldTour rankings. 

His wins included a rare hat-trick of victories at the Tour de France, made up of a mountain stage, a bunch-sprint, and a time-trial. His silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics was one of only seven medals that Belgium won.

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In winning successive Sportsman of the Year titles, Van Aert becomes only the sixth man to win back-to-back titles, and follows Eddy Merckx and Philippe Gilbert in this feat. Gilbert went on to win three in a row, while Merckx managed six titles between 1969 and 1974. Only this pair and Tom Boonen are cyclists with more wins in the competition than Van Aert.

The other male cyclists who made the final list were Remco Evenepoel in 11th, a previous winner; Jasper Stuyven in 18th; Tim Merlier in 19th; and Jasper Philipsen in 30th.

In the women's competition, the only cycling representative was Lotte Kopecky, who finished fourth. The rider, who is departing Liv Racing for SD-Worx in 2022, won eight races this season, which included the Belgian national road race and time-trial events.

Nina Derwael, a gymnast who won the Olympic gold on the uneven bars was crowned the Belgian Sportswoman of the Year.

In the UK, cyclist Dame Sarah Story finished outside of the top three for Sports Personality of the Year. The award was won by Emma Raducanu, the tennis player who became Britain's first female grand slam winner for 44 years when she won the US Open in 2021.

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