One could argue it’s not easy being Wout van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) these days thanks to one Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus).
Van Aert is a generational talent in both cyclocross and road racing, but it seems that right now, everything Wout can do, Mathieu can do better.
In cyclocross, the three-time world champion—at age 23!—has been overshadowed by Van der Poel’s historic dominance. Van der Poel’s season culminated in 26-straight wins and his second Cyclocross World Championship in Denmark.
At least after an impressive first year racing the spring classics last year, Van Aert still had the road, right? By all metrics, Van Aert had a strong classics campaign, taking third at Strade Bianche, second at the E3 Binckbank Classic and sixth at Milan – San Remo.
The only problem? Van der Poel did this and seemingly broke the cycling world.
This week, however, Van Aert is finally getting the chance to show his own talent. At the beginning of the week, news broke that he will be racing for Jumbo – Visma in the 2019 Tour de France.
At this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné, the young Belgian has validated his team’s confidence and then some.
In Sunday’s Stage 1, Van Aert sprinted to a 3rd-place finish and a nice start to the 8-stage race. He followed that with a 2nd-place sprint in Stage 3.
Then on Wednesday, Van Aert got his first-ever WorldTour win by winning the Stage 4 Individual Time Trial by 31 seconds over American Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education First).
Despite the pressure of being the sport’s future, Van Aert still had some time to poke some fun at himself thanks to the mashup of his Bianchi Celeste and the green jersey of the Dauphine points leader. (No word on whether the aero bars are a hint he will be racing the Dirty Kanza 200 next year)
Game, of course, recognizes game, and Van Aert’s Dutch ’cross counterpart took a moment to tip his cap.
— Mathieu Van der Poel (@mathieuvdpoel) June 12, 2019
For an encore to his ITT win, Van Aert continued his Dauphine roll by winning Stage 5 in a sprint on Thursday.
💚 Time-trial yesterday, sprint today, back to back victories for @WoutvanAert!
— Critérium du Dauphiné (@dauphine) June 13, 2019
With three stages left to go, Van Aert holds the points green jersey and the young rider white jersey and is only 20 seconds back in the GC. The last three stages are available to watch via the NBC Sports Gold app.
Featured image: Dave Mable