Wout van Aert unsure of targeting Tour of Britain GC after opening stage win

‘It gives me morale to start like that,’ said the Belgian as he prepare for World Championships

Wout van Aert at the 2021 Tour of Britain
Wout van Aert at the 2021 Tour of Britain
(Image credit: Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Wout van Aert says he’s unsure of targeting the Tour of Britain general classification after dominating the opening stage. 

The Belgian superstar soared to stage victory in Bodmin, Cornwall, as he marked world champion Julian Alaphilippe and sprinted clear to take the honours and the leader’s jersey.

Van Aert, racing for Jumbo-Visma, is fine-tuning his form ahead of the World Championships in Belgium later this month, but is unsure if he will be able to target GC in the British stage race.

Speaking after his victory, the 26-year-old said: “Being here it was almost overwhelming seeing the amount if crowds at the side of the roads, we have been missing this in the last two years and it’s nice to see people outside again and especially in a crowd together, it’s nice to see people are so crazy about cycling, it makes it more beautiful when we win.

“It was a tough stage. It was good for me to adapt to these kind of roads and to get used to them. The stage was controlled and yeah racing, high speeds and obviously on a first day of a race everybody is still fresh so it was a big battle to be at the front for the sprint. My teammates helped me secure a good position and I think I did the right timing in the sprint.”

If Van Aert wants to be in with a chance at the GC, his team need to put in a strong performance in the team time trial on stage three, over 18.2km from Llandeilo to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Camarthenshire. 

>>> Tour of Britain 2021: Everything you need to know about the week-long race 

On his overall hopes, Van Aert said: “The team time-trial is obviously a really important event here for the reputation the team has in time trials.  It will be important for the GC as well and I think on stage four we have the queen stage with a super hard finish so I’m definitely focussing on that one, and then afterwards we’ll see where my position is in the GC before the last four stages.

“It's a really important race and a nice race to do but on the other hand I’m here to try and race into the best legs possible going into the Worlds. We’ll see after stage four what’s good and what’s possible.” 

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.