Belgian cycling star and Jumbo-Visma rider Wout van Aert, who is no stranger to the international cycling circuit, has been confirmed to participate in his first official cycling event since his break, at the Giro del Rigo in Colombia on November 12th, instead of the World Cup cyclocross event in Dendermonde. The Colombian cyclist Rigoberto Urán, who enjoys a near demigod status in his home country, personally recruited Van Aert for his event, adding him to the illustrious roster of cycling elites such as Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Tadej Pogačar, and Egan Bernal who have previously participated.
Jumbo-Visma Backs Van Aert’s Diverse Choices
Jumbo-Visma’s team director responsible for off-road disciplines, Jan Boven, has openly encouraged Van Aert’s decision to participate in the Gran Fondo event. Speaking to IDLProCycling.com, Boven shared that these adventurous escapades are a type of event that Van Aert often seeks and fits him well. He initially described the choice as ‘crazy’ but went on to clarify that it is an excellent training opportunity and a chance for Van Aert to enjoy a different racing experience.
Boven further explained Van Aert’s need for variety in his racing calendar to maintain motivation. Van Aert is recognised for his exploration in road races and has shown interest in initiating new cyclocross events in places like Dublin and Val di Sole. Boven was firm in his view that Van Aert enjoys these unique experiences and should maintain this approach.
Gran Fondo – Not Just About Winning
The concept of a Gran Fondo is likened to a grand touring race, where although there are opportunities for triumph – as seen when Johnny Hoogerland clinched the world championship title in his category – the primary aim for many is the sheer pleasure of cycling. In Colombia’s Giro del Rigo, amateurs look forward to the chance to ride alongside a professional like Van Aert, focusing on the joy and communal spirit of the sport.
The Cyclocross Community in Anticipation
With the cyclocross community awaiting the return of Mathieu van der Poel at the end of December, attention turns to Van Aert and Tom Pidcock for their cyclocross season plans. Van Aert’s venture to Colombia implies that his cyclocross comeback may not be immediate. Boven added mystery to the speculation, stating to the media that they would make an announcement regarding the plan when it is finalised. The extent of Van Aert’s cyclocross season and its alignment with the World Championships in Tábor in early February remain yet to be disclosed.