Wout van Aert has received the Kristallen Fiets – or Crystal Bicycle – award after being voted the best Belgian rider of 2020.
Having previously finished second, third, and fourth in the voting for the prestigious award, the Jumbo-Visma rider was a convincing winner in the eyes of a 131-person panel made of up journalists, national coaches, and former winners.
In fact, it was something of a two-horse race, with 2019 winner Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) the only rider to get close to Van Aert. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) was the rider who claimed the distant third place.
Van Aert had a sensational season, landing his first Monument at Milan-San Remo and adding another major Classic in the form of Strade Bianche. He was also runner-up at the Tour of Flanders and in the World Championships road race and time trial.
He won tough sprints at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France, but it was his domestique work in those stage races that really left a mark, as he produced climbing performance beyond expectations.
It was easy to forget that Van Aert had suffered a career-threatening injury at the previous year’s Tour de France, and the multi-discipline voting system surely noted his comeback during the cyclo-cross season, which featured 4th place at Worlds.
“It was a very special year and so this trophy does not come as a complete surprise to me. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful, of course,” Van Aert said at the ceremony in Antwerp.
As for his own highlight of the season: “My heart balances between Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, so make it that ‘Italian week’.”
Evenepoel had to settle for second place this year, but things might have been different had his season not been ended by a horrific crash at Il Lombardia. The 20-year-old won every stage race he entered and appeared to be a leading contender at the Giro d’Italia on what would have been his Grand Tour debut.