With Primoz Roglic absent, Jonas Vingegaard far from his best form and Tiesj Benoot not starting on the day due to sickness, Jumbo-Visma found themselves in an unfavourable position. That proved critical as the Belgian champion needed teammates to desperately chase eventual race winner Remco Evenepoel, who attacked at the top of the Côte de la Redoute. "This was the highest result possible for me," van Aert said in a post-race interview.
Remco Evenepoel saves Quick-Step's classics season with long-range win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Jumbo-Visma committed to the chase of the Belgian with the possible resources, but van Aert could only fight for the podium. This seemed unlikely at a point as he lost contact with the chasing group in the final hilltop of the race, however benefited from the lull in the action to enter Liège, where he sprinted to second place: "I tried to follow the best climbers and on top of the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons, I struggled to keep up. In the final kilometres I gave everything to sprint for the podium, which took a lot of strength. It was a sprint of dying swans, but fortunately it was just enough for the podium. Riding in the Belgian championship jersey, I really wanted a podium place."
After a bout of Covid-19 which took him out of the Tour des Flandres, it was still an incredibly successful return to competition with podiums at Paris-Roubaix and now Liège. The Belgian will now rest and recover before targeting the Tour de France this coming summer: "My goal was to win a monument this spring and unfortunately I failed. However, given the circumstances, I can be satisfied with how I performed. All in all, it was a nice and successful spring," he concluded.