Tom Boonen slams Wout van Aert for missing monument in 2022: ‘That’s all that matters’

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Wout van Aert looks set to finish the 2022 season as the second rider in the men’s field, but former Belgian pro Tom Boonen thinks his compatriot could have done more.

Van Aert won nine victories during the season, including three Tour de France stages and points classification, two Criterium du Dauphiné stages, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the E3 Saxo Bank Classic.

However, Boonen says there is one glaring omission in Van Aert’s 2022 record that makes it less than perfect: winning a monument.

Van Aert took podium places at Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and finished eighth at Milan-San Remo, but was forced to miss the Tour of Flanders despite being in top form after having caught COVID a few days before the race.

“I heard he couldn’t have done better this year, but I don’t agree with that,” Boonen said. Het Laatste Nieuws. “The only thing missing this year is a monument, they say. But that’s also all that matters. A runner of his level runs to win these races.

“It’s good that you’ve been called the best driver in the world for months, but that’s not the point. Wout must win classics. Ask him himself: he will also say that is what he wants. At the same time, I don’t want to be too strict,” he said. “Wout was having a very nice spring and he had the bad luck to retire due to corona at a crucial moment, just before the Tour of Flanders. The result was tough: once again lost a chance to win De Ronde or Roubaix .

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Van Aert already has a monument on his glittering track record after winning the 2020 Milan-San Remo. However, he fell just short of his most beloved classic races, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Boonen was one of the most prolific classics riders of his generation and he won three times in Flanders and Roubaix four times, winning both times in the same season. He believes Van Aert will take a monumental cobbled-together victory in his career, but he says time is running out for him to really make his mark at these races.

“The years go by,” Boonen said. “I am convinced that he will still succeed, but will he win La Ronde three times and Roubaix four times? Champions run for these kinds of records.

Boonen’s comments come in preparation for the Kristallen Fiets (Crystal Bicycle) awards on Tuesday night. The prize, created by Het Laatste Nieuws in 1992, is awarded to the rider considered to be the best Belgian of the year.

Van Aert has won the prize for the past two years, but he faces fierce competition from Remco Evenepoel, who won the Vuelta a España and the world road race in dominant fashion. Evenepoel won the Kristallen Fiets in his first professional season in 2019, although Van Aert spent much of the year out of action after suffering severe leg lacerations in a Tour de France crash.

Until this year, Van Aert was seen as Belgium’s leader in the professional pack and that was shown with the national team going all-in with the 28-year-old at Worlds in Flanders in 2021. However, Boonen says this year sees Evenepoel tied with his older compatriot.

“Becoming world champion will not be easier after this year. Evenepoel has set a serious precedent,” Boonen said. “Last year you had the Leuven debacle and the subsequent feud, but at that time Remco wasn’t much of a competitor to Wout. He hadn’t gone anywhere until this year. He There was a clear ranking: Wout was the leader and Remco was still the servant, but in 2022 everything will have changed.