I like Wout Van Aert but if you look at road races worth their salt that one of them actually won and where there was a real battle between them (I don't count TT's for example where Van der Poel finished 20th) then you get the following result:He's just a better cross rider than him, IMO. Not so much a mental thing though - beaten him plenty of times over the years in both disciplines.
- Tirreno-Adriatico 2021, Stage 5 - Van der Poel wins with a monster solo that Van Aert simply couldn't catch up too (gets dropped by Pogacar)
- Tirreno-Adriatico 2021, Stage 3 - Van der Poel outright beats Van Aert to the finish line
- Strade Bianchi 2021 - Van der Poel goes solo and Van Aert obviously did not have the legs to follow
- Ronde van Vlaanderen 2020 - Van der Poel outsprints Van Aert (this one still hurts)
- Milano-Sanremo 2020 - Van Aert wins, no clue what Van der Poel was trying to do
I don't think WvA is any worse (definitely more versatile) but he's had a difficult time at actually beating VdP in outright confrontations.