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Tour de France

Wout van Aert gutted but gracious in Tour de France defeat: ‘Lampaert was just faster’

Van Aert beats back theories that Lampaert had advantage of drying roads after seeing countryman blast past his provisional best time.

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Wout van Aert wasn’t blaming it on the weatherman Friday.

Van Aert could only sit and watch as countryman Yves Lampaert bettered his time in the Tour de France‘s opening time trial after spending some 45-minutes in the race-leader’s hotseat.

“Of course, I came for the win,” Van Aert told reporters at the finish. “I had the fastest time at the finish, although you never know for sure … but I had already beaten some big names.”

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Van Aert started in the middle of the stage in Friday’s 13km Copenhagen grand départ and set a provisional best time on a treacherous, rain-sodden course.

The Belgian bettered rival Filippo Ganna and the GC crew and looked on track for his seventh Tour victory.

However the storm-swept skies began to brighten for late-starter Lampaert and set the scene for his career-topping ride to the yellow jersey.

Van Aert didn’t put a dampener on Lampaert’s blazing performance.

“It would be silly to say now that it is due to the circumstances. Everyone has had to ride on wet roads, I think Yves was just faster,” Van Aert said at the finish.

“It’s stopped raining now, but the road has always been wet. I’m not a fan of using that sort of thing as an excuse anyway. Yves was five seconds faster, which is not a small amount on such a short time trial. For the third time I’ll say it — chapeau to Yves because he was very fast. I’m not going to say it again now.”

Also read: Lampaert surprises favorites and storms past Van Aert in Tour TT

Questions had clustered around Van Aert’s form after a recent knee-knock derailed his final preparations for the race.

Jumbo-Visma’s all-terrain ace looks to have already moved way past that problem and is hoping to turn his Copenhagen frown upside down through the Tour’s tricky opening week.

The Belgian baller has the green jersey on his to-do list and a raid on yellow in the back of his mind.

“I will have to switch quickly, although I was really focused on that time trial today,” he said.

“Now it is a disappointment. But tomorrow we’ll go for it again. There are still opportunities in the first week if I don’t lose too much time. There are a lot of bonus seconds to earn in the coming days. We shall see.”