Wout van Aert cements status as Swiss Army knife of pro cycling at 2021 Tour de France

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VeloNews 19 July, 2021 - 07:41am 10 views

Who won the Tour of France 2021?

On Saturday, Wout van Aert won his second stage at this year's Tour de France with a brilliant time trial performance. Tadej Pogacar did more than enough to all but officially win the 2021 Tour de France, as he retained his yellow jersey. MARCA.comTour de France 2021 Stage 21, LIVE: Van Aert wins, Pogacar champion, final results and classification

When is the final stage of the Tour de France?

Stage 21 - Chatou to Paris - 108.4km - Sunday, July 18 The final stage of the Tour de France is almost always its shortest road stage, but it packs a lot in: celebration, performance, and competition. It's never a difficult course. BicyclingTour de France 2021 - Stage 20 Preview

Who won stage 21?

Wout van Aert won the final stage 21 sprint of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, denying Mark Cavendish a record-breaking 35th stage victory, forced to settle for third after Jasper Philipsen came second. Cycling WeeklyWout van Aert denies Mark Cavendish to win Champs-Élysées stage 21 of Tour de France 2021

How long is the Tour de France?

At its close, the riders in the 2021 Tour de France will have covered 3,414 kilometres (2,121 miles) – not including the riding they do on the two rest days. Put plainly, if you were to get in a car in New York and head west, that'd get you as far as Salt Lake City. Cyclingnews.comHow hard is the Tour de France?

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How many different tool bits remain to be pulled out of the peloton’s ultimate swiss knife, Wout van Aert?

Van Aert soared twice over the Mont Ventoux, bossed the best in a specialists’ TT, and outkicked Mark Cavendish to take a spectacular trio of stage wins at this year’s Tour de France. He was the first to accomplish the feat since Eddy Merckx in 1974 and Bernard Hinault in 1979.

Van Aert stamped his ticket as the most versatile rider in the peloton in a whirlwind three weeks that even he struggled to wrap his head around.

“I cannot believe it,” van Aert said after completing his hat trick Sunday. “This Tour has been amazing, it’s been such a rollercoaster. To finish with a win like this is beyond expectations.”

There won't be anything more out of context than this. pic.twitter.com/qJwmrMdxWC

— Cycling out of context (@OutOfCycling) July 18, 2021

The Tour marks just the start of a summer schedule stretching from Tokyo’s mountains through the stones of Roubaix in a list of ambitions that further reinforces van Aert’s all-singing skillset.

After a brief reunion with his wife Sarah and seven-month-old son Georges on Sunday night, van Aert was on a plane to Tokyo as he heads toward his next major goal.

Van Aert started the Tour behind schedule after his appendix surgery but surged into form in the final weeks. Now, after beating back some of the biggest engines in the peloton on the Tour’s “wine trial,” van Aert is a top contender for the Olympic TT, and many are touting him for top honors at the road race.

Although van Aert was cautious in talking himself up, it would be hard to bet against him scoring at least one medal in the coming weeks.

“I guess I’ll try to win both [the road race and TT], but of course it’s going to be really difficult,” he said Sunday. “Though for now, I’m still overwhelmed by the victories of this weekend.”

With cyclocross world titles, monument victories, and Tour stage wins to his name, van Aert has become the peloton’s ultimate do-it-all dynamo.

By carefully toeing the line between outright power and climbing speed, he has been able to both outclimb the featherweight Kenny Elissonde on the Ventoux and outpace Kasper Asgreen in Saint-Émilion in the time trial. It’s a combination that makes him a model GC contender.

But despite placing second behind only Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar in the mountainous Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this year, van Aert is in no rush to mold himself to classification racing.

“Whether Van Aert should ever go for the overall victory? He is currently still too busy with the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, with Milan-Sanremo,” team director Merijn Zeeman told Het Nieuswblad last week. “His career is still very long. Maybe he’ll give it a try someday.”

For van Aert to go all-in on GC racing would require a significant shift in weight and an all-new training approach, something that could blunt his kick for the mud and guts of the northern classics and cyclocross. It’s a sacrifice he’s not willing to make in the near future.

“If I retrain myself to become a great prodigy, I’d go to a point of no return — my body will change, I’d lose kilos and lose all my qualities to win classics and sprints,” he said. “I don’t want that.”

🇫🇷 #TDF2021

— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) July 19, 2021

As a through-and-through Flandrien, van Aert has long been hunting a cobbled monument and he isn’t likely to turn his back on the heavy one-day races just yet.

Van Aert has three years on his contract with Jumbo-Visma. The Dutch outfit is already bristling with GC talent on multi-year deals, and so space for him for stage starts is limited. And with Jumbo-Visma committed to reinforcing its classics roster around van Aert, the 26-year-old’s place in the super-squad is cemented squarely in the northern spring.

And maybe that’s for the best.

Van Aert’s decades-long ‘cross and classics rivalry with Mathieu van der Poel is the gift that keeps on giving, and the freedom he was afforded as a non-GC racer at this year’s Tour led to a trio of victories only some of the “GOATs” of racing have pulled off.

Although he’s not the flashiest on the bike and modest off it, van Aert’s multi-faceted skillset keeps modern racing exciting in its unpredictability. A GC specialization would significantly limit his range.

An Olympic gold medal, Paris-Roubaix victory, and world title on home roads are all strong possibilities for van Aert and his swiss knife skill set in the coming months.

Who needs GC anyway? Wout van Aert is awesome as he is.

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Read full article at VeloNews

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar wins second straight Tour de France

ESPN 19 July, 2021 - 11:01am

The Slovenian rider with UAE Team Emirates successfully defended his huge lead of 5 minutes, 20 seconds over second-place Jonas Vingegaard.

The 22-year-old Pogacar won his first title last September when he became the Tour's youngest champion in 116 years. He is now the youngest double winner of the race.

Wout van Aert won the 21st stage in a mass sprint. That prevented Mark Cavendish from beating Belgian great Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins which the British sprinter equaled earlier in the race.

The mostly flat 108-kilometer (67-mile) leg began in Chatou just outside Paris and concluded with eight laps up and down the famed avenue.

Richard Carapaz finished third overall, 7:03 off the pace.

Pogacar and his teammates rode at the front of the pack together as they reached the Champs-Elysees, and the Slovenia champion raised his fist in the air in celebration.

Pogacar's gesture acted as a signal for those fighting for a prestigious stage win as the first accelerations took place. But the attackers' efforts did not pay off and the stage ended in a mass sprint.

Cavendish, who consoled himself with the best sprinter's green jersey, banged his handlebar in frustration after van Aert edged Jasper Philipsen to the line. Cavendish was third.

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