Wout van Aert (Belgium) beat Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) by a rim in the sprint for second in the Tokyo Olympics road race.

Wout van Aert adds to his silverware collection in the Olympic road race

After second place in the Olympic road race, Belgium's Wout van Aert hopes to take gold in Wednesday’s time trial.

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Belgium’s Wout van Aert won the sprint for second place at the Olympic road race, a little over a minute behind gold medalist Richard Carapaz of Ecuador. This is the Belgian’s fourth silver medal on the international stage in under a year, the first two earned at the 2020 World Championships, and the third at the cyclocross worlds earlier this year.

“Of course I’m a lot happier than in Imola,” said Van Aert, comparing Saturday’s runner-up finish to September’s World Championships road race where he also sprinted to second behind solo winner Julian Alaphilippe.

“I always race to win but I guess today there was one guy stronger. It was hard to arrive still in the group and play my sprint but I managed to do it and I’m really happy with the silver medal. It’s something really special to take a medal in the Olympics, even though I aimed for gold, but I guess it was the best possible result today.”

Van Aert proved the strongest in Belgium’s five-man team, keeping in touch with the climbers in a continuation of the remarkable versatility he demonstrated at the Tour de France. After the decisive climb up Mikuni Pass, the leaders were left without teammates to help them out in the closing phase of the 234 km race. Having won the iconic bunch sprint on the Champs-Élysées last weekend after taking mountain and time trial stage wins earlier in the Tour, Van Aert knew he’d be a marked man.

“I was the fastest finisher and you are always looked at. I knew in advance that this was going to be a difficult situation,” Van Aert said. “A medal was the highest achievable for me. I’m glad I was able to give something back to the guys because we used the perfect tactics. We can be proud of that medal. A second place at the Games is better than in any race.”

The 26-year-old has a second chance to score a medal at the Tokyo Olympics in Wednesday’s very lumpy 44.2 km time trial.

“I also think I have a really good chance on Wednesday,” said Van Aert, whose second Tour de France stage win of three was found on the stage 20 ITT. “After the Tour I feel good. I recovered well and today I showed my legs are good and that I also adapted to the jet-lag and the weather here. Hopefully a few days of rest will bring me into the good shape for Wednesday.”

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