Wout Van Aert, reigning cyclocross world champion, put his talents on display out on the road Sunday at Schaal Sels — insofar as the Belgian one-day event with a wonderfully creative parcours can be called a “road race.”
The 21-year-old, riding for the Crelan – Vastgoedservice continental squad, took the victory after powering clear of a small lead group on a stretch of dirt road in the final five kilometers. Perhaps it’s not so surprising after all that the star ‘cross rider might thrive on a parcours rife with gravel, dirt, and cobblestones.
It’s not the first time Van Aert has taken a road win this season. He nabbed a prologue victory in May at the Baloise Belgium Tour, and that was on paved roads throughout.
Having racked up two nice wins and a few other strong results in his road forays this season, Van Aert could be forgiven for considering diving deeper into road racing as his career progresses. Etixx – Quick-Step’s Zdenek Stybar and Astana’s Lars Boom are both recent examples that it can certainly be done — though cyclocross fans could be forgiven for preferring that the Belgian wunderkind stick to racing in the mud full-time.