Wout van Aert rides Gravel World Championships faster than winner, finishes 8th

29-year-old's Garmin file suggests his form was on par with Matej Mohorič

Wout van Aert with a strava file embedded on top of the photo and an image of a Garmin
(Image credit: Thomas Maheux SW Pix / Strava / Instagram)

Belgian one-day specialist Wout van Aert completed the UCI Gravel World Championships on Sunday with a faster moving time than the race winner Matej Mohorič, but finished over eight minutes down in eighth.

According to Van Aert's Strava data, which he published after the event, the Belgian rode the 167km course in Veneto, Italy in 4-51-39. This was over two minutes faster than Mohorič's official winning time of 4-53-37. 

So why didn't the Jumbo-Visma win? Well, the explanation is simple. 

Van Aert crashed in the first half of the race, and was held up for over 10 minutes on a tight gravel track. During that time, his Garmin Edge GPS stopped its recording of the ride. 

Although his moving time was faster, his total elapsed time - which includes pauses - was over eight minutes slower than Mohorič's.

“I crashed, had a puncture and had a mechanical problem with my saddle,” Van Aert told the press after the race. “The crash and the puncture were my fault for being careless, so I couldn’t get back to the front of the race.” 

Having dealt with the misfortune, the Belgian pushed on alone, and at quite a lick too, climbing over 90 places and finishing in the top 10. 

“I knew I could never get to the front again,” he explained. “But I didn’t feel like quitting, either. I just rode at my own pace and rode from group to group.” 

An impressive eighth was the best Van Aert could manage. His Strava file later showed he averaged 34.3km/h while active in the event, 0.3km/h faster than the winner, Mohorič. 

“It was still a great experience,” Van Aert said. “I would certainly like to participate again. I really enjoyed it and I think it is something that really suits me.” 

Mohorič also suffered a small spill late in the race, but rode on to claim his first rainbow jersey in a decade, following on from his win in the under-23 road race at the UCI World Championships in 2013. 

The Slovenian triumphed with a 20km solo attack in Veneto, and was joined on the podium by Florian Vermeersch (Belgium) an Connor Swift (Great Britain), who came second and third respectively. 

Kasia Niewiadoma won the women’s race on Saturday to become world champion. 

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