“No sport where the words 'heroic' and 'historic' are used more often than in the race.  This time it really is”

He’s wrong, Wout van Aert. The World Cup on Sunday is not “the course of his life”, it sounded to the assembled press on Friday. “Journalist talk”, he said, and we got the laugh for free. For an hour, the great Belgian hope for the world title was relaxed. A 27-year-old rider, in the shape of his life, bursting with confidence. But here he was wrong. And not just because of the unique sporting opportunity that Van Aert will get on Sunday. A simple calculation will suffice. The World Cycling Championships do not come to this country much more often than once every fifteen or twenty years – the last time was in 2002. Few are the Flemish riders who are allowed to ride a World Cup on their own soil more than once in their career. Even scarcer are those who are allowed to do this at the peak of their abilities. And it is completely exceptional that they find a course that is tailor-made for them. Van Aert gets it all on Sunday. Once in a lifetime is sometimes not just a quip. If this is not the course of his life, it is certainly the opportunity of his life.

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