“I was completely screwed, but I still had to sprint to get a few bonus seconds,” said Van Aert Sporza thereafter, although he acknowledged that GC men in a Grand Tour are generally not blessed with a fast finishing speed. “I have already done more difficult sprints.”
As it turned out, Roglič had the wherewithal to finish ahead of Pogačar and take fourth place in the scoreboard for the row, although both men got home two seconds behind the Van Aert flight. Tom Dumoulin had served as a fortune teller for Van Aert and he said the Belgian offered the best guarantee of denying Pogačar the bonus seconds. “Primož is pretty quick, but it was safer to go for Wout,” said Dumoulin.
Van Aert’s sprint came after working at the front of the yellow jersey group on the Glières plateau, where he helped ensure that forward Mikel Landa’s advantage never exceeded 30 seconds.
“It was still very difficult,” said Van Aert Sporza. “When they attacked at the top of the last climb, I was done, but I had to keep riding to help Primož in the final. ”
Already winner of two stages on the Tour, in sprints at Privas and Lavaur during the first week, Van Aert seems to have the form to win on one of the three remaining days, including the time trial at La Planche des Beautiful Girls on Saturday, although he downplayed his prospects.
“I don’t feel like thinking about the next few days yet,” said Van Aert, who will be the road race favorite at the World Championships in Imola on September 27 and he will also be a contender in the time trial.
“Tomorrow we will see what remains to be gathered. The world championship is scheduled for next week and I want to do well there too. The biggest mistake you can make is wanting everything. ”
However, since the season resumed in August after the break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Van Aert has been able to do just about everything. He won Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and a Critérium du Dauphiné stage before the Tour, while his mountain performances in support of Roglic suggest that the three-time cyclo-cross world champion could further develop in the years to come. .
When asked if he could win a mountain stage of the Tour in the future, Van Aert was cautious: “Maybe.”