Van Aert Commits to Complete Tour de France Despite Olympic Preparations

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Wout van Aert has confirmed his intention to reach the final day of the Tour de France in Nice, as he prepares to compete in the Olympic Games. At a Visma-Lease a Bike press conference on the Tour’s first rest day, Van Aert dismissed Belgium national selector Sven Vanthourenhout’s suggestion that he might leave the Tour early to focus on Paris. “I was a bit surprised to read that, because it was never discussed with Sven,” Van Aert said. “The intention has always been to finish the Tour. I really need this race to find myself again.”

The Tour de France wasn’t originally in Van Aert’s plans for this year. He had intended to debut in the Giro d’Italia and then prepare for the Olympics. However, a severe crash during the Spring Classics forced him to change his schedule. After returning to racing at the Tour of Norway in late May, Van Aert was deemed fit enough to support Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour and work on regaining his form.

Fatigue and Recovery

Van Aert acknowledged that he is still on the path to full recovery. “I don’t really have that feeling yet, I’m quite tired after these first nine days,” he said. “You usually only feel after the Tour that things are really going well. I know that fatigue plays to my advantage. I am confident that I will continue to improve.”

Sunday’s gravel stage saw Van Aert playing a key role, setting the pace for much of the off-road segments, as Vingegaard rose to the occasion. “I am satisfied after yesterday’s ride, because as a team we achieved our goal and on a personal level because I felt good and was able to contribute. But there is a difference between really fighting for victory and the work I did yesterday,” Van Aert explained.

Struggles and Setbacks

Van Aert faced significant challenges during the stage 7 time trial, finishing 24th, 1:51 behind winner Remco Evenepoel. This performance was well below his usual standard. Consequently, his hopes for the Olympic time trial in Paris on 27th July, just six days after the Tour concludes with another time trial, have dimmed. “I am not a favourite there. I already wasn’t, and I will not get back into that role. The numbers I set on Friday were very far from what I can normally do,” he admitted. “It’s a 30km time trial in Paris, for which I am super motivated, but it will be very difficult to win a medal there.”

Despite these setbacks, Van Aert remains focused on the road race. “A stage win has always been the goal. Hopefully, that will happen in the second week. The [final] week in the mountains will be very tough,” he concluded.

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