Wout van Aert said he “screwed up” in the uphill sprint in Limoges on stage eight of the Tour de France, which was won by Lidl-Trek’s Mads Pedersen.
The Jumbo-Visma rider was part of a reduced group of riders - which was full of puncheurs, but with some sprinters hanging on - as the riders tore into Limoges ready to scrap it out for the win.
After seeing himself pipped to the line by Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Van Aert explained that his missing out on the win was entirely of his own making.
“It's always frustrating when you can't finish the team's work,” he said. “I made an error in waiting too long. Mathieu [van der Poel] and Jasper [Philipsen] passed me just as Christophe Laporte dropped away.
“I was in Laporte's wheel and he expected me to pass on the right, but I was on the left of his wheel. Then I had to brake and I came up short in the sprint. That's my own fault, I screwed it up myself there.”
Missing out on the win in Limoges left Van Aert frustrated, particularly after earlier chances had gone begging in stages earlier in the Tour’s opening week.
The Belgian explained that his form and fitness was not a problem, and that he would look to go again in the coming days.
“I’ve had the legs to win all week,” Van Aert explained. “The fight for yellow has been important since day one and the team is strong enough to combine that with battling for stage victories.
“We'll of course continue to work for Jonas [Vingegaard], but I also hope to wipe that zero away because I'm also here to win. Every day is a new chance and that's just as well.
“For now, every day is a bit like the Tour of 'not quite' and that's a shame."
The Jumbo-Visma rider was beaten by Philipsen - his fellow countryman - in the scrap for second place on the day. Van Aert explained that despite the tough, uphill run to the line, he expected the current green jersey to still be in contention.
“It's no surprise if you come over these kinds of hills,” he said. “I think the bunch in the Tour de France is super strong so we expected that there would still be a lot of guys but we also wanted to make the race hard so it's in my favour in the sprint. I have the feeling we did everything right but I accept myself.
Meanwhile on the roads of the Haute-Vienne there would be heartbreak for Mark Cavendish who crashed out of the race with a suspected broken collarbone.
Van Aert offered his commiserations to the Astana rider, calling his withdrawal from the Tour “a shame.”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” Van Aert said when told about the Manxman’s condition. “Jasper [Philipsen] said yesterday that he showed that he still has it in him to get that stage win so that's a shame for sure. Also it would've been nice for him to finish it off in style here instead of crashing out of the race so it's s***.”
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1