Wout van Aert (Belgium) moments after finishing his ITT at the 2021 Road World Championships in Belgium.

Wout van Aert is fed up of winning silver medals

The Belgian was ahead at both time checks in the World Championship TT, but Italy’s Filippo Ganna kept enough in reserve to retain the title.

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Wout van Aert finished second behind freshly crowned ITT world champion Filippo Ganna in Sunday’s race, adding another silver to his medal collection. He’s hoarded more in just twelve months than most do in a career, but Van Aert’s getting a bit fed up of being beaten by single riders.

“It’s not funny anymore to get second,” Van Aert said after finishing his TT effort.

It won’t help that he led the event through both intermediate time checks on the way to Bruges. Van Aert was seven seconds faster than the defending champion after 13.5 km, giving the hoards of roadside fans something to cheer about. By the second time check, positioned 10 km from the finish, Ganna had come to within a second of the Belgian’s time, setting up a thrilling finale.

The Belgian fans greeted their hero with enormous enthusiasm and 90 seconds later could be seen gesturing at Ganna to slow down, but neither tactic had the desired effect. The Italian paced his 47:47-minute effort to perfection, holding just enough in reserve to cross the line a handful of seconds faster than Van Aert.

“I feel a bit disappointed,” he said in the post-race press conference, “not really about my performance because I’m actually quite happy with how everything went, I made no mistakes, my time trial was steady I think, I was just beaten by a stronger rider, a specialist in this discipline.”

Filippo Ganna (Italy) knew exactly where he stood as he crossed the line in Bruges: six seconds faster than Wout van Aert (Belgium).

Van Aert’s first appearance at a Road World Championship was in 2020. The Belgian came away from Imola with two silver medals, finishing behind Julian Alaphilippe (France) in the road race and Ganna in the TT. Since then, he’s also finished behind Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) at the CX Worlds, and – you guessed it – second behind Richard Carapaz (Ecuador) in the Tokyo Olympics road race. 

“Another silver medal in this championships is a bit of a disappointment,” he said, before explaining what information he received during the test. “Obviously it was hard to go to the line, but I always like to have the correct information of the intermediates. Also, before the race, [you know] it’s not going to be a walk in the park, it’s not that I don’t panic if I hear Filippo is coming a bit closer.

“I knew in the last part after the cobbles it was my plan to really go full and hopefully accelerate but I could only maintain the same speed and not go faster anymore. I guess Filippo made the difference there, it wasn’t mentally a problem to hear that.”

Van Aert is a key favourite to take victory on home roads in next weekend’s road race, with the support of an incredibly strong Belgian team. The Flanders Classic-style route is the perfect course for him to finally add gold to his trophy cabinet.

Wout van Aert (Belgium) on the podium with freshly-crowned world champion Filippo Ganna (Italy) and third-place Remco Evenepoel (Belgium).

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