This time, Wout van Aert did not fail in his favorite status: even deprived of a teammate in the final, the Belgian rider won the 86th Bretagne Classic on Sunday, 254 km long around Plouay. (Morbihan).
Surprised a week earlier by the Austrian Marco Haller at the arrival of the Cyclassics in Hamburg, van Aert (Jumbo) mastered the final sprint of around twenty riders, ahead of the young Frenchman Axel Laurance (B&B Hotel), the race local who lives 4 km from Plouay.
💪🔥 Overpowered, Wout Van Aert wins the Bretagne Classic!#BretagneClassic #LesRP #GPPlouay @WoutvanAert pic.twitter.com/a43XeHOf9h
– Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) August 28, 2022
Norwegian Alexander Kamp (Trek) completes the podium and Belgian sprinter Arnaud De Lie (Lotto) finishes fourth.
By decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI), seized on Friday by several riders and teams, the two sections of "gravel" had been removed from the course on Saturday evening, to the chagrin of the organizers.
In recent years, the race had often been based on attacks, or sometimes also on punctures, on these gravel paths, but some riders felt that they left too much to chance.
While six riders took the lead from the first kilometers, the Jumbo team worked to control this breakaway for more than half of the race, on a demanding course dotted with short and steep climbs.
"It's nice to win in Brittany"
But when the first counter-attackers left, the Dutch formation did not follow.
And on the Marta coast, just over 25 km from the finish, Van Aert took it upon himself to blast the peloton, then push to catch up with the last breakaways and finally to control the attacks among the small score of riders still in the lead in the last kilometers.
“It was a tough race for the team.
We had bad luck, told the press the winner of the green and super combative jersey of the Tour de France 2022. But it's nice to win in Brittany, a region where cycling is really popular.
It's nice to also win these historic races.
“When I'm at the start, the pressure is on us.
We took our responsibilities and in the end, fortunately, I had good legs.
In the sprint I made the right decision to throw a bit further, with a lot of speed,” he added.
From now on, the 27-year-old Belgian will fly away for the Quebec races before winning Australia for the world championships: “There are still four weeks left, it's still a long way off but for the moment I feel good!
There he will find Tadej Pogacar, double winner of the Tour de France and second in the 2022 edition. In the recovery phase after a vacation in Slovenia, the rider finished 89th, more than three minutes from van Aert.