Belgian superstar Wout van Aert rode the UCI gravel worlds course in the fastest time but found himself finishing eighth behind Matej Mohorič this past Sunday. Ultimately, the Jumbo-Visma rider trailed by eight minutes, but it’s worth noting that if one discounts some of the challenges he faced during the race, he could have secured victory with a two-minute lead.
Of course, crashes and mechanicals are part of bike racing. Nevertheless, if you crunch some numbers it’s certainly interesting to wonder what might have been.
Rainbow stripes for @matmohoric 🌈
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) October 8, 2023
Taking a look at the Strava data shared by Van Aert post-race, the Belgian cyclist completed the 167-kilometer course in Veneto, Italy, in a time of 4 hours, 51 minutes, and 39 seconds. This performance was more than two minutes faster than Mohorič’s official winning time, which clocked in at 4 hours, 53 minutes, and 37 seconds.
Now, what led to this disparity? An early crash set Van Aert back significantly in the field. So, if you compare moving time to total time, you can see he was the quickest of the day.
Furthermore, he also had a puncture, adding another layer of complexity to his race. Despite slipping out of contention, Van Aert refused to quit and continued to pick off riders.
Never give up ⚡️
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) October 10, 2023
“I crashed, had a flat, and had a problem with my saddle. The crash and the puncture were my fault due to my carelessness, so regaining my position at the front of the pack was impossible.,” He said. “However, I never considered quitting. I simply maintained my own pace and gradually caught up with various groups.” Comparing average speeds, Van Aert maintained a pace of 34.3 km/h, slightly edging out Mohorič’s 34 km/h.
That said, it’s important to note that the Slovenian contender wasn’t without his own challenges. Despite taking the victory with a remarkable 20-kilometer solo escape, beating Belgian Florian Vermeersch and Brit Connor Swift, Mohorič also experienced a minor tumble toward the race’s conclusion.
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