Wout van Aert put in a phenomenal ride to take silver at the Olympic men’s road race in Tokyo. The Belgian led in the elite chase group behind race winner Richard Carapaz as he sprinted to second place. Van Aert brought home the first medal for Belgium.
The Olympic 234-kilometer course included almost 5.000 meters of climbing. The riders had to tackle the lower slopes of Mount Fuji on a route with 5 ascents before finishing at the Fuji International Speedway racetrack.
Van Aert managed to keep his pace on the important Mikuni Pass and started the descent with 12 other pre-race favourites in front. When two riders escaped, a tactical game of his fellow escapees in the chase group saw Van Aert’s chances on gold and silver being recuded. Yet, with a powerful acceleration, wout van Aert managed to bring down the gap to 20 seconds and to open up new possibilities.
Carapaz was too strong to be reeled in, but the chase group did manage to catch McNulty. In a sprint for silver, Van Aert crossed the line first, winning a milimeter sprint from Pogacar.
Wout van Aert:
“I’m happy for the team that I could win an Olympic medal to thank them for their work. I did everything I could, though I had the legs to win. There was nobody that really seemed to be better than the other riders in the front group. I knew it would be hard after the Mikuni Pass and that the others would be looking at me and Pogacar. Yet, Carapaz was too strong. He’s golden medal is well-deserved.”