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The moments that carried Wout van Aert to the Tour de France green jersey
The Belgian road racing star finishes the 2022 Tour de France by winning the points classification and recording 3 stage wins along the way. Review the stand-out moments from his memorable Tour.
It's been quite the Tour de France for Wout van Aert over the past three weeks. The Belgian cyclist set the objective of winning the points classification competition at this year's edition, and he did so in dominant style. van Aert clocked up 480 points in total along the way, 194 points more than Jasper Philipsen, the second placed rider on the classification.
Being the points classification leader from Stage 2 right up to the end of the final and 21st stage in Paris, van Aert wore the famous green jersey associated with the competition throughout the race. Points in this competition are awarded to the riders who win or place high in stages, time trials and intermediate sprints throughout the three-week race.
On his way to taking the points classification title, van Aert won three stages (including a time trial), finished second four times and also had a third place. He was active in intermediate sprints when they took place on stages throughout the race, building up his points advantage there. He also wore the yellow jersey as leader of the general time classification in the race for four days early on in this year's Tour.
van Aert's 2022 Tour de France journey was much more than achieving his own objectives of winning the green jersey. He played a huge part in making sure his Danish Jumbo-Visma team-mate, Jonas Vingegaard, won the overall race classification and the yellow jersey by being a key domestique when the Tour went into the mountains. The 27-year-old played a key part in team tactics by racing in breakaways and generally animating the race at every opportunity.
Read on to review the key moments for him from this year's Tour de France, which ultimately took him to the green jersey win.
Stage 1: A strong start in the opening time trial
van Aert, along with 176 fellow pro cyclists, begins the 2022 Tour de France journey in the Danish capital of Copenhagen for the first of three stages in the country before the race moves to France. The opening stage is an individual time trial and it's a discipline that van Aert is very good at, having been twice a Belgian National Champion and a World Championship silver medallist.
The time trial takes place in wet conditions, but van Aert, with his cyclo-cross background, uses those handling skills to his advantage and records the fastest time. However, one of the later riders to go, fellow Belgian Yves Lampaert, goes better and takes five seconds off van Aert's time, who has to settle for second place.
Stage 2: van Aert takes the yellow jersey
The second stage of the year's Tour from Roskilde to Nyborg ends in a bunch finish with a sprint to the line. van Aert comes close to a first stage win at this year's Tour, but is pipped on the line by Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen. Despite that second place, van Aert moves into the overall classification lead of the race due to claiming bonus seconds for finishing second. That means he'll wear the yellow jersey for now, but he also still holds the lead in the points classification.
Putting on the jersey gives a great feeling. I've been close to it many times, but this time I managed
Stage 4: van Aert goes solo and takes a stage win in yellow
The Tour de France is finally back on the French mainland, with a stage from Dunkirk to Calais for Stage 4. van Aert puts in an aggressive ride in the yellow, making a sensational solo escape 10km out from the finish and holding on to the finish line to give him his first win at this year's Tour de France. After finishing second on all three stages that took place in Denmark, this win in France is sure sweet.
The yellow jersey gives me wings. This is certainly one of my most stunning victories. Winning in yellow is very special
Stage 6: Out of yellow, but van Aert honours the jersey
van Aert loses the lead in the general classification to Slovenian Tadej Pogačar on Stage 6 from Binche to Longwy, but he goes down fighting, having escaped in a three-man breakaway early in the stage and then going solo with 30km to go. His efforts are in vain as he's caught and passed 11km from the finish and slips out of the top 10 in the general classification. van Aert's focus is now to help his team leader, Jonas Vingegaard, in the battle for the general classification as a domestique and pick up points for the points classification or stage wins if he can.
Stage 8: Wout finally comes out top in a sprint finish
The Tour heads into Switzerland for Stage 8 and it proves memorable for van Aert, as he takes his second stage win of this year's race in Lausanne. The stage is decided by a sprint finish and this time van Aert, back wearing the green jersey, manages to outsprint the group that were involved to take the win after finishing second in sprints on Stages 2 and 3.
This was an important stage to increase my lead in the points classification. There was a lot of pressure on the final sprint
Stage 15: Still strong and fighting after the mountains
After several hard days in the mountains, where van Aert had been in the service of his team leader Vingegaard, the Belgian is allowed some freedom on Stage 15's flat finish to contest a bunch sprint. van Aert animates this stage early on and was initially in a breakaway group of three, but then dropped back into the peloton when asked to by his team. The power is still there in the sprint finale, but van Aert couldn't reel in Jasper Philipsen, who took the win. Another second place for van Aert, his fourth of the race so far.
Stage 17: The green jersey is all but his with 4 stages left
van Aert mathematically wraps up the green jersey points classification during Stage 17 from Saint-Gaudens to Peyragudes, after finishing second in the intermediate sprint on the stage to take his points total up to 399 points overall. Following that result, van Aert is 220 points ahead of Jasper Philipsen, the second-placed rider in the points classification, with just a maximum 220 points left to be won. van Aert winning the jersey with four stages still to go is some achievement.
Stage 18: van Aert sacrifices a stage win to help his team leader
van Aert once again animates the race by getting into an early breakaway, a high mountain stage in the Pyrenees. At the front of the race for most of the day he pulls clear of other riders on a climb and is in contention of winning a big mountain stage. Behind him the battle for the general time classification is playing out between Vingegaard and his nearest challenger Tadej Pogačar. van Aert slows his effort on the final climb to wait for team-mate Vingegaard to catch him. In one last big effort, van Aert then increases the pace on the climb and with Vingegaard on his wheel they manage to pull clear of Pogačar, with Vingegaard taking the stage win and van Aert eventually finishing third.
Stage 20: Wout shows incredible reserves to win the penultimate stage's time trial
Despite his gargantuan efforts on Stage 18, van Aert recovers well and records his third stage win of this year's Tour in a 40.7km time trial from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour, with a time that smashes many out and out TT specialists out of the park. His time of 47m 59s is 24 seconds faster than the second-placed rider, his team-mate Vingegaard. Vingegaard all but seals the yellow jersey win in the general classification in the process, sealing a special day for van Aert and Jumbo-Visma.
I'm emotional. Today it was like a dream scenario. I thank all my team-mates and the whole team. It's unbelievable
Stage 21: Celebration time in Paris
van Aert opts out of contesting the sprint on the iconic finish of the Champs-Élysées in Paris on the final stage. Instead he rolls in across the finish line side-by-side with his five remaining Jumbo-Visma team-mates, including the 2022 Tour de France champion Vingegaard, for a joint celebration.
van Aert ends the Tour with 480 points, the most points in the modern era, and finishes 22nd overall in the general classification. He's also awarded the 'super-combatif' prize for being the most combative rider through this edition of the Tour. Given his stirring performances through the past three weeks it's richly deserved. The only thing left to do now is to collect the points and super-combatif awards in front of the crowds on the Champs-Élysées.