Tokyo 2020: Wout van Aert is the best rider in the world at the moment - Bradley Wiggins backs Belgian for Olympic glory
“Wout is the best rider in the world at the moment,” Eurosport's Bardley Wiggins said on his Eurosport podcast following the Belgian's win on the Champs-Elysees. “And the most versatile. The guy is phenomenal. I have huge respect for him. “He’s now the favourite for the road race – he has to be. And I’d love to see him win it.”
‘Boxed in!’ – Cavendish frustrated as Van Aert wins Stage 21
It capped a memorable Tour on a personal level for Jumbo-Visma star Van Aert, as it was his third stage win of the race. And in sprinting to victory in Paris, he completed a special set as it backed up his time-trial success into Saint Emilion and his solo win over Mont Ventoux.
Wiggins was in awe of what Van Aert did at the Tour, which was all the more impressive as he had his appendix removed weeks before the race, and feels he heads to Tokyo as hot favourite for the road race. He is also slated to ride in the time-trial.
“Wout is the best rider in the world at the moment,” Wiggins said on his Eurosport podcast. “And the most versatile. The guy is phenomenal. I have huge respect for him.
Wout Van Aert
Image credit: Getty Images
“He’s now the favourite for the road race – he has to be. And I’d love to see him win it.”
In a stunning summer of 2012, Wiggins won gold at the Olympics after tasting Tour de France glory.
Despite tipping him for glory, Wiggins says it will not be easy for Van Aert or any of the others who rode the Tour to back up in Tokyo.
“We just went from Paris to London,” Wiggins said. “They have got to go to Tokyo, time adjustment, climate adjustment, after one of the toughest Tours in recent memory, so it’s not going to be easy.
Reflecting on Van Aert’s achievements at the 2021 Tour, Wiggins said: “I don’t think anyone would deny Van Aert.
“What he’s done this race is truly exceptional. He’s won a mountain stage over the Ventoux, he’s won a time-trial and he’s won a Champs-Elysees sprint stage.
“The kid is on another level in terms of his all-round ability.”
'This will spur him on' - Wiggins backs Cav to return and 'go for record'
There was disappointment for Cavendish who found himself boxed in behind Van Aert by Jasper Philipsen, and punched his handlebars in frustration after crossing the line in third - missing out on breaking the record for stage wins he jointly holds with Eddy Merckx.
“I was disappointed for Cav,” Wiggins said. “I know he’s an absolute winner and he’ll be gutted with today. That was the one he wanted to win the most. But let’s look at what he’s come away with: equalling the record of Eddy Merckx, four stage wins and he’s won the Green Jersey 10 years after he last won it. No one would have expected that.”