Van Aert Prepares for a Challenging Tour de France in High Spirits


Belgian cyclist Wout van Aert is set to play a crucial supporting role for Visma-Lease A Bike leader Jonas Vingegaard in the upcoming Tour de France. However, Van Aert has made it clear that he, too, will seize his own opportunities during the race.

Van Aert’s recent fifth-place finish in the National Championships in Belgium marked his return after a severe crash in the spring at Dwars door Vlaanderen, where he suffered multiple fractures. This accident forced him to skip the Giro d’Italia. He made his comeback in the Tour of Norway, finishing third on the final stage. After his first race in Belgium in three months, he is now gearing up for the Tour de France.

Despite his commendable result at the Nationals, Van Aert pointed out that it didn’t reflect much about his prospects in the Tour de France. “The level of competition in the Tour is much higher,” he explained. “If I feel good, I will get opportunities from the team and I will take them fully. Otherwise, I will play an important role in the team. I hope my condition will improve during the Tour.”

Van Aert’s form has improved significantly, and he is now able to train without major limitations, although he occasionally suffers from back pain. “It’s annoying, but I can’t complain. I can train normally and have made progress,” he said.

His encouraging result in Belgium was a testament to his recovery, but he cautioned against reading too much into it. He admitted that while he opted to wait for the bunch sprint, he was too far back in the last kilometre, which cost him in the final dash for the line. “Compared to them [in a sprint], I know I’m an underdog,” he acknowledged.

Van Aert’s climbing form in the 2022 Tour de France was impressive, even managing to drop Tadej Pogačar in the Pyrenees. However, his teammate Tiesj Benoot expressed in a recent interview with Het Laatste Nieuws that Van Aert is not yet at the same level as last year or two years ago. “Wout has made progress in recent weeks, but he’s not at the level of last year and certainly not that of two years ago,” Benoot said.

The Visma-Lease A Bike team management remains optimistic about Van Aert’s chances. In a reference to a previous incident where Vingegaard’s actions affected Van Aert’s stage win chances, Merijn Zeeman joked, “I hope that we will get some controversy because it’ll be good for the documentary at the end of the season.”

Zeeman added, “Wout called me and Grischa [Niermann, sports director] to say he was very motivated to go to the Tour, to do something special for the team, with the team, and that means with Jonas fighting for yellow.”

Van Aert’s ability to play multiple roles, combined with his strong presence, makes him an invaluable asset for the team. As Zeeman concluded, “A champion like him really deserves that [stage win].”

Related Posts

Ko-fi ProCyclingUK button