“First of all, congratulations to Wout van Aert, because what he did today was an extraordinary show for cycling.” While his protege Tadej Pogacar had just taken the yellow jersey at the end of the sixth stage of the Tour de France, Thursday July 7, Mauro Gianetti, the manager of UAE Team Emirates, wanted to salute, in the first place, the performance of the Belgian. VShe last broke away, after many reminders, for most of the stage before being caught ten kilometers from the finish in Longwy.
Three times second before winning on Tuesday, Wout van Aert wore the yellow jersey for four stages with panache, impressing his competitors, who will remember in particular his acceleration a few kilometers from the finish in Calais. Disconcertingly easy, the Belgian very often showed off his golden tunic at the front of the race.
From then on, the praises of the opposing formations rained down. “Tuesday in Calais, we experienced an exceptional sporting achievement, underlined Marc Madiot, the manager of Groupama-FDJ at the end of the fifth stage in Arenberg. Me, I had fun. He’s not in my team but he’s a magnificent runner. He has everything in him and he still knows how to be the teammate.”
“He knows how to give every last drop of energy in the chase, as we saw on the cobbles. I’m not going to say he’s my favorite rider but I have a deep admiration for this guy- there. He is a rider who has in him what cycling is all about.”Marc Madiot, manager of Groupama-FDJ
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Wout van Aert surprised the peloton again on Thursday, almost trivializing the presence of the yellow jersey in the breakaway. “You could think it was a transition stage with an early breakaway, but among the three breakaway riders there was Van Aert, who had decided to ride Van Aert and go on the offensive”told Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) on arrival in Longwy.
The Belgian, in all good shots, tried several times to take off in the first kilometers, accelerating at the front of the peloton, before attacking and breaking away 148 kilometers from the finish. “Van Aert, he’s a monster of power. He came out strong, he gave a demonstration. I wanted to be in the breakaway and finally I’m maybe happy not to have been with him, it would have been a very hard day”explained Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies).
Among the few riders who managed to follow him, Quinn Simmons will remember his first breakaway on the Tour de France. “Obviously it was special, especially with the yellow jersey, he underlined at the end of the day. I think he’s the most complete runner ever. Some may argue for Pogacar, but look at last year: he won in the mountains, in the sprint, and in the time trial.”.
The American, the youngest of the Grande Boucle 2022, did not however have a real pleasure at the front of the race: “In the first 20 minutes, when there were three of us trying to get away, I had never suffered so much. When he left alone 30 kilometers from the finish, it was not a choice on my part. to let him go, I’ve never been taken off someone’s wheel like that before.”.
Perhaps too fiery and too ambitious on the sixth stage, Wout van Aert was caught by the peloton ten kilometers from the finish in Longwy. The Belgian made too many efforts to weigh in the final, and thus lost his yellow jersey, which he honored. He now points to an anonymous 54th place in the general classification, more than seven minutes behind Tadej Pogacar.
“We wanted to send Wout on a bigger breakaway, with more riders, that would have been ideal, but the other teams played their game”regretted Frans Maassen, sporting director of Jumbo-Visma after the race. After showing himself on the first stages, Van Aert will now return to the ranks and once again take on the role of teammate for his leaders, Primoz Roglic, and especially Jonas Vingegaard. From Friday, between Tomblaine and the Super Planche des Belles Filles, he will wear his green jersey as the leader of the points classification, with the hope of wearing it as far as Paris on July 24.