Wout van Aert is not only the current points leader at the Tour de France but he’s also a class act. When a fan helped him out with a predicament after the finish of Stage 11, he returned the favor with the literal shirt off his back.
After sprinting his way into the points lead and pulling his team back into the fray at the Tour de France, Wout van Aert must have felt generous.
The Belgian rider raged down the stretch on Stage 11, putting the heat on race leader Tadej Pogačar. His effort helped fellow Jumbo-Visma teammates Primož Roglič and Jonas Vinegaard pedal back toward the front of the pack. Ultimately, Jumbo-Visma carried the day: Vinegaard captured the yellow jersey, and van Aert wore green after the stage.
But in van Aert’s case, he wouldn’t wear the points leader’s colors for long — at least not literally.
When a bystander pointed out that he’d copped a puncture in the podium area, van Aert asked around for a pump. Another fan lent him one and, in return, van Aert handed him the maillot vert itself.
“Wout told him: ‘You’re a hero’ and said: ‘I’ve got something for you, take the green jersey off my back, it’s yours,'” the fan told Cyclingnews.
“What did I learn from it all? Be the first to pass a pump to Wout van Aert because, in exchange, he could give you a special souvenir,” said the other.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. That’s also where van Aert found himself in the race when he started his breakaway. Van Aert initiated the move aside a rival — fellow cyclocross racer Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck).
“The plan was to be in the breakaway and be the rider out front,” van Aert explained. “That Mathieu was on my wheel was a nice surprise; it will be really cool pictures. We did a really fast first 30k; I really enjoyed it.”
On the final climb, it was Vinegaard’s turn to pull away. With a little under 3 miles to go, he dashed out front to win the stage and take the overall lead.
“It was not easy, I was in front, ready to help Jonas and Primož toward the Granon, but apparently, Tadej Pogačar could chase down the guys all the time. So at that moment, I thought it was going to be hard to do something. But I think because Laporte and I [broke away] at the beginning of the stage, we made him suffer already early on. That’s why Jonas could break away on the final climb, van Aert said after the podium ceremony.
“It was a really big day; we prepared for this day — you could see we were all ready to give it a go and attack the yellow jersey.”
Not to mention the green one.