Wout van Aert about second places: “I know many champions who often finished second”

Wout van Aert about second places: “I know many champions who often became second”

Interview

Two times second, that is good for yellow and green in the Tour de France 2022. And Wout van Aert in Nyborg was satisfied with that. “I place this day very high in my career. Every rider dreams of that jersey.” Van Aert also had nice words for winner Fabio Jakobsen during the press conference. “After what he’s been through, he deserves this. I am genuinely happy for him.”

In the flash interview immediately after the finish, Wout van Aert already said that he thought he would win. He came back to it again at the press conference afterwards.

“It was quite strange. At first I was disappointed because Fabio Jakobsen passed me in the final meters. He must have shaken off a really strong sprint. However, I soon realized that second place was enough for the yellow and the disappointment disappeared. It was already second place, but this time there is no reason to complain.”

You keep collecting second places. Have you ever considered what kind of honors list you already had, if all those had been victories?
“No, I haven’t done that yet. There is a reason why you are second. Sometimes it’s up to you and you try to learn from it. Another time you will be beaten by someone stronger. Today is another good example of this. Besides, I know a lot of great champions in cycling who also often came second.”

“Better second than no result, I think. And today I get a yellow jersey instead. That is proof that if you keep going every day, you will be rewarded sooner or later.”

Your sports director Arthur van Dongen noted that you are able to turn the knob very quickly after a disappointment. How do you do that?
“Haha, that’s something you get used to, maybe. The more it happens, the better it succeeds. My experience over the years has been that there is always the next day and opportunity. Look at last year’s Tour. In the first week it was just not enough, but I kept believing in it. Even the day before my victory in the Ventoux stage, I was still second in a bunch sprint. 24 hours later I took perhaps the best stage win of my career. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Son Georges got a yellow lion yesterday – photo: Cor Vos

You already wore the yellow in Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné, but this is the real yellow. Where do you place this in your career?
“That’s a difficult one. I have already booked some nice victories, but I think every ambitious rider dreams of wearing the yellow one day. It’s something I’ve been chasing for a while now and worked hard for. I’m quite proud. I don’t know where exactly I put that, but it’s high in the ranking, yes.”

It will not be an obvious task for the team to defend that yellow now.
“That’s true. But with or without yellow within the team, Jumbo-Visma will always have work to do. They were exceptionally strong in this ride. Really crazy to see. So there is great confidence that it will succeed.”

By the way, did you enjoy the Great Belt Bridge? Expectations were high.
“Honestly? The passage was bore† Really boring. The headwind was so strong that we barely reached 30 kilometers per hour, especially in the uphill part. It felt like a training ride after 180 kilometers of race pace. But because it was so close to the finish, we didn’t have the freedom to enjoy the view. It is undoubtedly a special thing, but not in these weather conditions. Now it was no more than a stretch of track without an audience.”

Finally, a word about the winner. You also know what it’s like to come back from injury…
“Tons of respect for Fabio. I remember very well those first moments after his bad fall in Poland. The entire cycling family loved it and experienced difficult days. There was only relief when we knew he would be able to lead a normal life again. But the comeback he has made in the meantime is fantastic. He deserves this win. Fabio is a friendly opponent and I am genuinely happy for him.”