Wout van Aert (BEL) as one of the favourites at the race start of the 104th Belgian National Championships - Men Elite Road Race 2023, a one day race from Izegem to Izegem in Belgium over 231km on 25 June 2023. // Kristof Ramon / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202306250541 // Usage for editorial use only //

Van Aert digs deep to clinch second Tour of Britain road race title

Belgian cycling phenomenon Wout van Aert dug deep over the final kilometres on Sunday in Caerphilly to hold off his rivals and clinch his second Tour of Britain road race title after a week of brilliant racing in hot, draining conditions.

Van Aert won his first Tour of Britain title in 2021 when he edged out home British hope Ethan Hayter by just six seconds to add to his impressive 2021 wins at Gent–Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race.

This time around, the three-time world Cyclo-cross champion and 2022 Tour de France points winner started strongly on Stage 1 from Altrincham to Manchester with a second-placed finish.

He went on to finish third in Wrexham’s Stage 2, then claimed victory at Stage 5 in Felixstowe which enabled him to open up a crucial three-second lead over his nearest rivals in the field.

The Jumbo–Visma rider then maintained his overall lead on Stage 6 and Stage 7 to head into Sunday’s final Stage 8 with a good chance of another title, if his team could fend off the nearest challengers.

Sunday was a cat-and-mouse affair as the peloton made their way from Margam Country Park through Cowbridge to Category One climbs at Rhigos and Bryn Du and finally Caerphilly for two tough Category One climbs as Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez Cano eventually broke clear to win.

Van Aert held on in the chasing pack and he powered clear in the final stretch to finish second and clinch a gutsy second Tour of Britain title by three seconds from Norwegian Tobias Halland Johannessen and Australian Damien Howson with the Netherland’s Olav Kooij winning the points jersey, New Zealand’s James Fouché the King of the Mountains jersey and American Magnus Sheffield the best young rider title.

Van Aert, 28, said: “I have to thank all my teammates, for the whole week but especially today because when Nils (Politt) attacked with 50km to go with Rodriguez, I really had a hard time and I thought it would not be possible to take the GC but they really saved the day. I just tried to focus on going as hard as possible through the top then over the top I tried to get an overview of the situation and stay calm. In the end, I knew it was two real climbers at the front and they had to expend a lot so I really had to believe I could reload myself there and go all in on the final climb.”

Header image: Wout van Aert (BEL) as one of the favourites at the race start of the 104th Belgian National Championships – Men Elite Road Race 2023, a one day race from Izegem to Izegem in Belgium over 231km on 25 June 2023. Credit: Kristof Ramon / Red Bull Content Pool

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