Wout van Aert finished second at the UCI World Championships 2021, while Toon Aerts rounded out the podium in Ostend.

The 2021 world title was expected to be a battle between Wout Van Aert and Mathieu Van der Poel, but a puncture of Van Aert in the third lap saw Van der Poel taking over. The Belgian champion went in the pursuit, but wasn’t able to bridge to the Dutchman in the following laps. Despite Van Aert’s blistering start and impressive sand sections, the flat tyre was bad for his morale. Van Aert kept fighting until the finish line, but had to settle for silver.

While Van Aert and Van der Poel were fighting for their 4th world title each, Toon Aerts put in a strong ride to claim the bronze medal. For a moment, Pidcock seemed to close in on Aerts - who had been riding solo for most of the race - but the Belgian managed to secure the final podium spot with a fast sprint towards the finish line. It’s Aerts’ third World medal in a row.

Wout van Aert:

“Of course I am a bit disappointed. The start was good and at one point I was in a favourable situation. I lost too much time and energy by puncturing, which is why I exploded. I am also a bit disappointed in myself. I couldn’t fight back like I normally can. The puncture was bad for the morale. I never let my head hang down, but I couldn’t reach a higher level anymore.”

“Mathieu and I are evenly matched. The one who takes a lead can afford a small mistake. We have a deserved world champion. I didn’t get any closer in the second part of the race. I did miss the fans though, but of course Mathieu did as well. Hopefully they will be back soon.”

“Now I’m going to enjoy the next week, taking some rest and prepare myself for the new goals for this year.”