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In the little village of La Barthe-de-Neste early on stage 17 Wednesday, the race delivered the mathematical confirmation of a foregone conclusion: Wout van Aert will be the winner of the points classification at the 2022 Tour de France, so long as he finishes the race.
Crossing the intermediate sprint line there in second place, taking 17 points behind Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), means that the Jumbo-Visma superstar cannot be beaten.
After that result, there were 220 points available, and his lead is 220 over Philipsen. It’s some achievement, given there are still four stages of the race to go.
This would be the first Tour de France green jersey win of Van Aert’s career and Belgium’s first since Tom Boonen in 2007.
Speaking to VeloNews last week, former sprinter Stuart O’Grady likened the Belgian to Eddy Merckx.
The versatile racer has been prominent throughout the race no matter what the stage profile. He especially gorged on points in the race’s first week. He has led the points classification since stage two and finished second in the opening three stages.
Subsequently, Van Aert won stage 4 into Calais, with a 10-kilometer solo attack, and was victorious on stage 8, on a steep uphill in Lausanne. All the while, he has been a regular breakaway member and served as a domestique de luxe for leader Jonas Vingegaard.
There are still more opportunities for glory to increase his emphatic advantage. Last year, the 27-year-old won the penultimate stage time trial and the sprint for victory on the Champs-Élysées and he could do the same in 2022.
Providing he makes it across the line Sunday in Paris, Van Aert will receive €25,000 ($25,500) for the points classification title.