Wout van Aert had to pull out of the Tour de France at the 13th stage on Friday.
The Jumbo-Visma cyclist had a bad fall during the time trial final. “I’m severely disappointed to be leaving the Tour de France this way,” the Belgian time trial champion said in a video published by his team on Saturday, a day after an operation on his leg.
He cut his right leg badly during the fall. “Given the circumstances, I got off quite lightly,” he said. “I had a good night and I’m only in a little bit of pain because of the medication. It’s fine as long as I don’t have to move. The operation was very quick and easy. Following the Tour on TV is going to be painful. I’m severely disappointed to be leaving the Tour de France this way.”
Van Aert won a sprint and team time trial during his first Tour, which meant he was awarded the white jersey (best young rider) for a few days. “I can be proud of these first two weeks. I achieved a lot for myself and the team. But my goal was Paris, and that won’t happen now”
Van Aert was one of the favourites to win the time trial at Pau. He had the second-best time at the third and penultimate checkpoints when he fell. “I wasn’t having a great run,” he admitted. “My legs weren’t great and I heard other riders were faster. I had to do everything to make up as much time as possible. I was really pushing it. Then I came to a bend. I wanted to make up time and I took it too tight. I caught my thigh on the barrier, that’s how I got the injury.”
“It was my fault I fell, but my injury was because of the barrier,” he said. “I think this type of fall only happens rarely. Maybe we could think of a better way to place the barriers in the future. The mechanism wasn’t fitted properly or it had come loose. But of course, you should always try and go around the barrier rather than crash into it,” van Aert joked.
The Brussels Times