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Eddy Merckx and Tom Boonen criticize Wout van Aert for gifting Gent-Wevelgem

Jumbo-Visma rider let his teammate take the win

Gent Wevelgem finish Photo by: Sirotti

Several former pro cyclists, including Eddy Merckx, Tom Boonen and Dirk Dewolf, weighed in on Wout van Aert’s victory gift to Christophe Laporte. On Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields, Laporte took a huge win after breaking away with his Belgian teammate. Coming to the line, it was clear that van Aert would not be sprinting, giving the win to his French teammate.

“Gent-Wevelgem is not a ride in Paris-Nice,” Boonen said afterwards.

In an article on Sporza, Merckx said that although he knew Laporte would win, he disagreed with the gesture.

Was he surprised? “Ah, yes and no,” the Cannibal said. “I bet with my son for 1,000 euro that Laporte would win. It’s his choice to let a teammate win, but I wouldn’t have done it.”

“Of course I don’t know what’s going on within the team,” he added. “Wout van Aert was by far the best, you saw that on the Kemmel. He could make history by winning Harelbeke, Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.”

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Boonen echoed Merckx’s sentiment. “Wout is going to regret it,” the former world champion said. “I also helped teammates win, but never in a situation like that. You help teammates to make them fight for the win. This looked good for the marketing of the team, but I don’t know if I would have done it.”

He underscored that a race like this should never be given away.

“Jumbo scores, but Gent-Wevelgem is Gent-Wevelgem. That course is nicely on your roll of honour. It’s more than a ride in Paris-Nice,” he added. “Do you want to win like that. I had sprinted for it. A sprint like that would have looked weird, but the fairest. Wout is going to regret it.”

The three-time Flanders champion went on to say that you never know what will happen in your career.

“Riders come and go. Christophe Laporte will probably be the key figure for Wout in Flanders and Roubaix, but that is not a guarantee,” he said. “Suppose you fall heavily after 5 km on Sunday, then you regret it a lot.”