Wout van Aert wins UCI Houffa Gravel Fondo in Belgium
Wout van Aert won Houffa Gravel this Saturday beating some big names and top gravel specialists including Niki Terpstra, Jan Bakelants, Johnny Hoogerland, and last year’s winners Jasper Ockeloen
Wout van Aert lined up with wravel specialists Niki Terpstra, Jan Bakelants, Daan Soete, Petr Vakoc, Ryan Kamp, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Piotr Havik, Johnny Hoogerland, Ivar Slik, Paulina Rooijakkers, and last year’s winners Jasper Ockeloen.
Wout van Aert crushed the UCI gravel race organized in Houffalize! At home, the Belgian attacked the competition to solo to the finish more than 9 minutes ahead of his rivals gaining maximum confidence before the UCI Gravel World Championships in Veneto, Italy.
Belgian Daan Soete was second overall in a time of 3h 29m 47s with German Paul Voss third ovreall in a time of 3h 29m 49s.
Pauliena Rooijakkers (4h 4m 36s) won the women’s race ahead of Sabrina Stultiens (4h 13m 10s) and Dr. Stefanie Dohrn (4h 19m 21s) in third
Last year's women's winner Tessa Neefjes finished in a time of 4h 15m 30s for 5th place.
Houffa Gravel started in the picturesque Ardennes town of Houffalize. From the banks of the Ourthe, racers discovered a true gravel paradise on dirt roads, forest trails and untouched nature. The 110km qualifying course contained 1,580m of climbing.
Wout van Aert said afterwards, "“I didn’t know what to expect. In the beginning I wanted to follow first and that worked out well,” Van Aert said Saturday of his racing debut. “I felt the bike was OK and I could ride downhill well. At one point I opted for my own pace on a climb and that’s how I ended up in front.”
37 riders were disqualified for rule violations including multiple UCI Gran Fondo World Champion and former Tour de France rider Johnny Hoogerland.
The top 25% of each age group qualify for the UCI Gravel World Cup, which will be held later in the year in Veneto, Italy.
The 68 km course was the official qualifying distance for the UCI Gravel World Championship (men 60+ and women 50+), and the 110 km course the official qualifying distance for the UCI Gravel World Cup (men 19-59 and women 19-49)
Gravel worlds this October will see Van Aert face off with specialist graveleurs as well as his fellow WorldTour pros.
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Link to 2023 UCI Houffa Gravel Results: https://www.acn-timing.com/?lng=FR#/events/2158113692084839/ctx/20230826_houffagravel/cms/UCI
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