Meet Wout van Aert, the giant all-rounder in the Tour de France spotlight
A Cyclo-cross champion and a star of this year’s Tour de France, Wout van Aert has become one of the most versatile cyclists in the world – get to know him right here.
Wout van Aert has been one of the major players at this year’s Tour de France, and it’s the latest highlight in the remarkable career of one of the most versatile riders in the peloton.
The Belgian racer is part of the start-studded Jumbo-Visma team at this year’s Tour with a career to date already littered with both challenges and successes.
Learn all about him right here.
He hails from a hotbed of cycling
Van Aert was born in 1994 in Herentals, which spawned one of Belgian cycling’s most famous sons in Rik van Looy, who won all five of the sport’s one-day classics, two world titles and the Tour de France’s points classification.
Cycling’s in the blood
He's related to Jose van Aert, a Dutch cousin on his father’s side who rode in the professional peloton from 1988 to 1994 and made appearances at the Tour and Giro d’Italia. Van Aert senior never achieved the heady heights of the younger van Aert. The pair only got in touch once van Aert was already a keen rider, and he still attends his races whenever he can.
Before taking on the roads, he established himself as a Cyclo-cross king
Long before tackling the roads, van Aert was making a name for himself in Cyclo-cross not just at national level – he won the first of five Belgian titles in 2016 – but also on the world stage He's a three-time world champion with a hat-trick of titles from 2016 to 2018 and he's the current Belgian champion.
A psychologist helped turn him into a world beater
Van Aert came up through the ranks with Mathieu van der Poel, who often got the better of him. Determined to improve, van Aert sought out the mental coach Rudy Heylen. Of his tie-in with him, he said: “He helped me turn things round.” He won his first national title and then the world crown within a few months of working with Heylen.
His two-wheel versatility is his greatest strength
Van Aert is an accomplished Cyclo-cross rider, but his adaptability on the road is even more impressive. He's one of the leading time trialists in pro cycling, he can match the sprinters and he’s no slouch when it comes to the classics, having one such prestigious races as Milan-San Remo, Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem. He’s a great climber, too, and was used as a domestique in the 2021 Tour de France to help his team leader up on the lower slopes of the big mountain stages. He also won solo on the iconic Mont Ventoux stage of last year's Tour after launching an attack 11km from the summit of the climb. In total he now has seven stage wins on the Tour de France.
A nasty crash threatened to derail his career
Riding in the individual time trial on stage 10 of the 2019 Tour de France, and wearing the white jersey as the leading young rider in the field, he suffered a nasty crash that ended his race. In an interview months later, he admitted it turned into a career-threatening injury after an error during an operation where the surgeons missed a torn tendon. He defied medical expectations, however, and was back in Cyclo-cross action by the end of the year.
He’s a giant of a cyclist
A study a few years ago found that the average height of a professional cyclist was 1.75m. Generally, they tend to be more diminutive in the saddle. But Van Aert’s one of those to entirely break that mould. He measures up at 1.91m.