‘It was a crazy plan’ - Wout van Aert on his stunning solo Tour of Britain stage win

Belgian superstar says it’s now ‘up to the others’ to attack him as Jumbo-Visma rider takes over race lead

Wout van Aert celebrates his stage win in Felixstowe
(Image credit: SWPix.com)

Wout van Aert has said that his stunning late attack on stage five of the Tour of Britain in Felixstowe was something Jumbo-Visma cooked up on Wednesday evening, after his team-mate Olav Kooij had won yet another stage.

The Dutch rider took the victory in Newark-On-Trent on Wednesday to make it four wins from four for the 21-year-old.

After taking the honours in Felixstowe - which also saw him take over the race lead - Van Aert told the media, including Cycling Weekly, that his late attack was an attempt to catch out the rest of the sprinters who were expecting yet another bunch sprint in the seaside town.

Van Aert said: “It was not planned way before, it was actually a plan that came up yesterday evening. Part of it, of course, is Olav winning four stages already, so it's just nice to try something different if you can and especially as all the previous stages we saw that a lot of teams tried to get our wheel towards the final bends.

“It was a big relief. It was a bit of a crazy plan to try and surprise the bunch. But yeah, I felt the whole team was confident in it and wanted to give it a try. Already before the stage I was nervous about it... it's really cool that it worked, so yeah, a big, big relief and I'm proud of how we've raced as a team this week.”

In recent days, the Belgian explained that Jumbo-Visma had observed the rest of the sprinters' teams frantically attempting to get into Kooij’s slipstream before the Dutchman then launched his powerful sprint in the final kilometre.

Van Aert said that the team had decided that the twisting finale in Felixstowe lent itself to potential other opportunities to catch out the rest of the teams in the general classification picture.

The race wraps up in Caerphilly on Sunday, and the Belgian’s cunning late punch has now given him a three second advantage in the general classification ahead of his rivals. 

Wout van Aert wins stage five of the Tour of Britain in Felixstowe

(Image credit: SWPix.com)

“We felt the last couple of days that other teams were trying to get our wheel towards the finish, especially sprinters in the wheel of Olav,” he explained. “That's why we wanted to try something else and we knew if I could pass the guys through that final corner, there would probably be a moment of hesitation because there's not really many teammates for others really close to the front.

"I assume that worked well. I didn't see the images yet but I looked behind and I had a decent gap immediately. So from then on, I just went flat out to the finish.”

“We took it as a chance and even if it hadn't worked, the bunch was lined out and Olav had a good chance to do the sprint,” he added.

The riders rode through the Suffolk countryside in blazing heat, although Van Aert said that the hot weather had no impact on proceedings for him personally.

“It was a nice, warm day. I understand it's not common in England to have this weather, so I'm really glad that for the whole week we've been racing in nice temperatures, but today was not getting even warm, it was getting much hotter. So luckily, we're used to dealing with circumstances like this.” 

Wout van Aert on the podium in Felixstowe

(Image credit: SWPix.com)

The final two stages will provide other riders looking to challenge Jumbo with an opportunity to take the fight to the Dutch team.

Van Aert explained that after dominating the race throughout the week, they’ll now be looking to the likes of Ineos Grenadiers and Tom Pidcock to throw down the gauntlet before they make their next move as a group. 

“I think we've spent a lot already, a lot of effort to control this race every day and try to make it into a bunch sprint,” he said. “So I think it's definitely up to the others to try and chase us, especially because I'm a few seconds in the lead now.

"On the other hand, we also want the overall win of course so there's two more days where we want to really go for it.”

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.