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Alberto Bettiol takes torch of miscued celebration from Wout van Aert

Bettiol shrugs off embarrassment after thinking he won stage 2 of Tour de Suisse: ‘My friends will all be joking with me today and tomorrow.’

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Wout van Aert is known for his classics-crushing, mountain-climbing, time-trialing versatility and his superstar celebrity.

Alberto Bettiol inherited one reputation Van Aert wasn’t so proud of on Monday – the Belgian’s recently acquired fame for celebrating a victory that wasn’t his.

The second stage of Tour de Suisse ended in confusion Monday when Bettiol “won” the bunch sprint for second behind breakaway winner Andreas Leknessund.

Bettiol’s raised-armed celebration was met with mirth and good-humored mockery by countryman and rival Matteo Trentin in the moments after the finish.

Despite missing out on what he thought was his first win in 13 months, Bettiol speedily shrugged off the embarrassment.

“I beat my Italian friend so I’m still happy,” Bettiol told reporters at the finish line. “I don’t know what happened. You see, my radio is off. Now all my friends are joking with me, and tomorrow, so …”

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Elsewhere, Van Aert was tuned in as he rested up after Jumbo-Visma dominated the Critérium du Dauphiné last week.

The Belgian suffered similar last Tuesday when he missed out on victory atop Chastreix-Sancy by celebrating too early and being pipped by David Gaudu to the line.

“I am happy to pass the torch to Alberto,” Van Aert jokingly tweeted later.

Like in the cringe-worthy moments after the final in Switzerland, Bettiol wasn’t beating himself up on Twitter.

“Here I am,” he wrote in response.

Bettiol tunes in for Tour de France

Bettiol saw the positives in what may have seemed a disappointing day.

A strong ride by Team EF Education-EasyPost teed up the former Tour of Flanders champion for his best result since the winter.

“I just started my approach to the Tour de France, my big appointment of the year,” Bettiol said. “I didn’t race much in the first part of the season because I had health problems with COVID, so I’m really, really happy.

Bettiol missed a chunk of his spring season with COVID and was off the back when he recovered. Three DNFs in six races saw the 28-year-old far out of the frame through the northern and Ardennes classics.

With victories at last year’s Giro and the 2019 Ronde, Bettiol could form a key cog in his team’s Tour de France campaign next month.

“I’ve just started and I think I will improve a lot during the Tour de Suisse,” he said. “This year it’s really tough [at Suisse] and I think that’s good for me.”

Bettiol will be looking to pass Van Aert’s torch onto someone else and win for real sometime very soon.

Wout van Aert realizes that he has not won stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné
Wout van Aert was cringeing when he realized what happened on stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. (Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images)