Should the coronavirus pandemic have only acted as a precursor to the main apocalypse yet to come, Wout van Aert will at least be able to melt down his burgeoning collection of silver medals and trade it for food, or fashion some sort of weapon out of the mass of metal accumulating on his mantlepiece with which to protect his young family.
If not, maybe he could form it into one big lump and smash his head against it, such must be the frustration at picking up yet another second place at a major championships.
Two second places at the 2020 Imola World Road Championships in the road race and time trial, silver behind Mathieu van der Poel at the cyclocross World Championships earlier this year, and then silver again behind Richard Carapaz in the Tokyo Olympics road race this summer.
"It's not funny anymore to get second," he told the TV cameras (opens in new tab) after the finish. By the time he'd ducked into the Bruges concert hall for the press conference with the written media he was back in good spirits, laughing as he heard the anecdote that Belgian fans along the course had been motioning for Filippo Ganna to slow down, such was their desire to see a homegrown winner.
"I feel a bit disappointed, not really about my performance because I’m actually quite happy with how everything went, I made no mistakes, my time trial was steady I think, I was just beaten by a stronger rider, a specialist in this discipline," Van Aert conceded.
"Another silver medal in this championships is a bit of a disappointment."
It had looked like Van Aert was going to finally trade in his silver for gold, seven seconds up at the first time check, then less than a second at the next in the closing kilometres. Unfortunately, Filippo Ganna had been keeping something in reserve, overturning this deficit to win on the line by only five seconds.
"Obviously it was hard to go to the line, but I always like to have the correct information of the intermediates," Van Aert explained. "Also, before the race, [you know] it’s not going to be a walk in the park, it’s not that I don’t panic if I hear Filippo is coming a bit closer.
"I knew in the last part after the cobbles it was my plan to really go full and hopefully accelerate but I could only maintain the same speed and not go faster anymore. I guess Filippo made the difference there, it wasn’t mentally a problem to hear that."
Van Aert will have another chance in a week's time in the road race, where he will be the marked man, even more so than last year in Italy, and try to come up with a plan to beat that. In the time trial this was something he didn't have to worry about, but conversely, when Filippo Ganna is on the start line, it seems there isn't much he can do. Worlds time trial twice over Ventoux anyone?
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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.
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