Wout van Aert says he's 'happy he made it to the finish in one piece' after avoiding late Tour of Britain crash

The Belgian champion had to hand his leader's jersey back to Ethan Hayter, who won the stage

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert says he's happy he made it through the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain in "one piece" after a late crash halted his chances of sprinting for the win.

Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was leading the overall standings coming into stage five of the race, after winning the queen stage on stage four to the Great Orme where he out-sprinted world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Jumbo-Visma).

However, due to him missing out on sprinting on stage five, as second overall Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) took the win, the Belgian handed the blue leader's jersey back to Hayter, who now holds an eight second lead in the GC.

>>> Ethan Hayter sprints to victory and retakes overall lead on Tour of Britain stage five

Speaking after the stage Van Aert said: "I am especially happy that I myself did not suffer any physical damage, I felt well-placed in the last kilometre. I chose Mark Cavendish's wheel. 

"The road surface was wet and that partly caused some riders to crash. I was able to squeeze the brakes just in time and make sure I didn't fall myself. Unfortunately, the sprint opportunities disappeared immediately after this incident. 

"The objective for today was to defend the jersey. But the most important thing remains to avoid unnecessary risks. With a view to what is yet to come, I am happy that I made it to the finish in one piece."

Van Aert is using the Tour of Britain as his main build-up race for the upcoming World Championships, which take place in the Belgian region of Flanders with Van Aert being Belgium's stand-alone leader for the race.

After the race Van Aert rode up to Hayter to congratulate him with the British rider asking if he was okay after the crash. Van Aert said he was fine but missed out on the sprint before jokingly adding "otherwise for sure you wouldn't have won." 

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There are three stages remaining at this year's Tour of Britain with all three likely challenging the big favourites for the race. Stage six to Gateshead sees three short climbs very late on including an uphill finish that could see Alaphilippe fight his way back into the overall contention as he sits at just 19 seconds back in third overall.

The stage into Edinburgh on stage seven is likely going to be a sprint but on tough roads it could be a select group with the final day into Aberdeen absolutely suiting a mass dash to the line. 

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