Wout van Aert is on his phone

A scene from someone else's press conference.

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Wout van Aert is at Jonas Vingegaard’s press conference, but nobody’s really spotted him yet.

The two most dominant riders of the Tour de France arrived in the same yellow and black van as members of the same yellow and black team, but for now, Jonas Vingegaard is the centre of attention. That is how things should be. He just won the biggest bike race in the world, taking that mantle off the shoulders of Tadej Pogačar, a man that moments earlier had to confront the reality of his first lost Tour campaign

So all eyes are on Jonas. He has the right answers to the right questions. The Tour went perfectly for Jumbo-Visma, he says. He’s right. They won the yellow jersey, the polka dot jersey, the green jersey, the combativity award, and six stages (so far, with one to go). They will make a lot of money this Tour, and they beat the unbeatable Tadej Pogačar. For now, all eyes are on the vanquisher.

So Wout van Aert – not a man that’s easy to miss, you understand, a full 6’3” of internationally-recognised Belgian wattage – just sits there. 

These are not glamorous surrounds. His chair is pressed up against a wall, next to a pair of bins, on the side of a basketball court in a sweaty small town sports complex. He’s waiting for his turn to talk about his impressive Tour de France, while Vingegaard talks about his. While he waits, Wout van Aert twiddles on his phone, scrolling up and down, one leg crossed across the other at the knee, and then the ankle.

For the duration of Vingegaard’s press conference, the only time Van Aert looks up from his phone is when he’s directly addressed, in the context of whether he will contest Tour de France leadership in the future. He smiles enigmatically in Vingegaard’s direction.  

Vingegaard gives the right answer, as he always seems to. There’s room for two team leaders, he says, and it’s a question for team management anyway. The two look at each other across the room, lock eyes for a bit and smile, give Belgian media just enough rope to keep tying themselves in knots.

Van Aert runs his fingers through his hair, then is back down on his phone, somewhere else than here.

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