Following the 2021 World Cycling Championships in Belgium, Wout van Aert was not happy with national team-mate Remco Evenepoel's tactical choices in the elite men's road race, and the comments he made afterwards on TV.
Evenepoel criticised Belgium national coach Sven Vanthourenhout, claiming that the tactics before the race were unclear, which is why he chose to attack so early on in the race. However, van Aert has expressed his annoyance with these claims on Sporza's cycling podcast De Tribune.
“First of all, they were statements that we should have discussed internally," van Aert said. “There was room for that within the team, because we were together for a while after the race.
"Or Remco could have done it later, but I don't think a TV studio is the right place. And substantively I thought it was a bit strange that he knew what the tactics were, but that afterwards he claimed that it was not all that clear and that he still wanted to ride for himself. However, the national coach had been very clear when he selected Remco.”
Van Aert failed to live up to expectations in his home region of Flanders in the elite men's road race, as the Belgian settled for 11th after being unable to contend with eventual winner Julian Alaphilippe's trio of devastating attacks in the final 20km.
"It was absolutely not the tactics of the team or the national coach to use Remco so early. He himself chose to attack so early, while that was earlier for Lampaert or Campenaerts. Because Remco was at the front, they were never able to carry out their task."
While tensions are still flared just over a week on, Van Aert is open to rebuilding his relationship with Evenepoel. Considering that the pair are only 27-years-old and 21-years-old respectively, they will both no doubt compete alongside each other in the future with the national team.
"It's important that we talk about this again," van Aert continued. "We will still be in selections together.
“Remco contacted me, but that was quite short. No major steps have been taken to clear it up, but that will come. Communication is important in every relationship and Remco still has to take steps in that regard.”
The Jumbo-Visma man also understands that he needs to forgive Evenepoel for his decisions, regardless of the conclusion at the World Championships.
“What happened at the World Championships will linger, but as a person you have to be forgiving. Otherwise you will make life very difficult.
"For me, this does not stand in the way of racing together later."
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