Wout van Aert at the start of the 5th stage of the Tour de France in Laruns, July 5, 2023. DANIEL COLE / AP
Wout van Aert can leave the Tour de France with the feeling of a job well done. The day after two stages during which his teammate Jonas Vingegaard knocked out his rival Tadej Pogacar, the Belgian Jumbo-Visma rider announced that he was leaving the 2023 edition of the Grande Boucle, four stages from the end of the race. A decision taken to allow him to attend the birth of his wife, Sarah De Bie.
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“After discussion with the team, we have decided that my place is now at home”, explains Wout van Aert in a video published on social networks by Jumbo-Visma. Before the Tour, the 2021 Belgian champion had already specified that he might not finish the event to be present at the birth of his second child. “I started the Tour hoping to finish it in Paris (…). But the doctor has announced that the delivery is imminent.specifies the Belgian rider.
Unlike the 2022 edition, during which he wore the yellow jersey for four days, won three stages, the green jersey and the super combative prize, Wout van Aert was a little less prominent this year. He nevertheless took part in numerous breakaways and finished seven times in the top 10, notably finishing second in Saint-Sébastien during the 2ᵉ stage and in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc during the 15ᵉ stage.
“I often had the legs to win a stage, but it didn’t happen [la victoire d’une étape]. (…) I take positive things from this Tour de France”, still assures the 28-year-old runner. The Belgian mainly played the role of luxury teammate with his leader, Jonas Vingegaard. It is also not insignificant to see him leave the Tour de France when the Dane managed to relegate Tadej Pogacar to more than seven minutes in the general classification, during the 17ᵉ stage, Wednesday.
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The Jumbo-Visma will therefore finish the Tour de France with seven riders, against eight at the start on July 1. “They will get good results by the end of the Tour. Everything will be alright “, wants to believe Wout van Aert. Except for a dramatic change during the last mountain stage, Saturday between Belfort and Markstein, or abandonment following a fall by Jonas Vingegaard, the Tour de France 2023 indeed seems promised to the Danish rider and the Jumbo-Visma team.