The Belgian champion left the victory to his friend and follower Laporte: the team spirit is strengthened and the favor will surely be returned
It is the year of phenomena. There are five star players who as soon as they put a number on their backs become favorites and almost always win. We think of Pogacar, Roglic, Evenepoel, Van der Poel and Van Aert. They are dominating the season as was the case only in the golden years of Merckx and Gimondi, De Vlaeminck, Maertens and Moser. They are so strong that they can even decide who to win. It happened yesterday at Ghent-Wevelgem, a classic with a great tradition of overwhelming popularity in Belgium.
Van Aert made the race, he left everyone behind on the Kemmel, but then he waited for his teammate and friend Christophe Laporte, he pulled much more than him and in the end let him have the victory. The captain of the Jumbo, Flemish and idol of the local fans, gave the first classic of the pavé to the follower. Is that right? The gesture, however one observes it, is of great elegance and particular sensitivity. The parish of purists turns up their noses because an unwritten rule of cycling says that the fittest must win. Point.
In the era of the sheriffs, Van Aert’s altruism had no citizenship. Eddy Merckx was the “Cannibal” precisely because he wanted to (and often succeeded) to win everything, even flying goals. But I was the same for Gimondi and Moser, for De Vlaeminck and Maertens… It is true that Bernard Hinault left a stage in Sondrio, that of the Stelvio, to his partner Bernaudeau, and Greg LeMond let Hinault win on Alpe d’Huez. But in those cases Hinault won the 1980 Giro and LeMond was in the yellow jersey and then conquered the 1986 Tour… And when three Mapei teammates showed up at the Roubaix velodrome in 1996, the choice of winner fell on Captain Museeuw, or in any case on the more titled, compared to the very good Bortolami and Tafi. So when Bettini and Garzelli arrived together at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2002 and it was the first who won, who was the leader for the classics.
This time Captain Van Aert has chosen to “reward” his friend. A noble gesture, behind which a new cycling is breathed. Do you remember Ullrich waiting for Armstrong after a fall uphill in the Tour? And the handshake between Pogacar and Vingegaard who had been waiting for him in the yellow jersey after the Slovenian’s crash downhill in last year’s Tour? Also include the hug yesterday between Roglic and Evenepoel after the last stage of Catalonia. The two gods challenged each other and teased each other all week, but in the end, as a sort of “third time”, they embraced. Here, Van Aert has chosen to leave a classic to reward a follower, but also to invest in the future. The head of the Fleming is already in the Tour of Flanders, the second Monument of the season. He has chosen to grow further in the consideration of his team, so everyone will give 110 percent for the captain to beat the other “phenomena” Van der Poel and Pogacar and win the mythical race of the Flemings. And so that noble gesture (which is worth so much in itself) will be returned with interest.
March 27 – 07:47
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