According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Belgian cyclist Wout van Aert could possibly make his Giro d’Italia debut next year, aiming for a top-five finish. The report indicates that his Dutch team, Jumbo-Visma, plans to assign him leadership responsibilities for the Italian Grand Tour. Should this plan materialise, van Aert may forgo participating in the Tour de France in July to focus on preparations for the upcoming Paris Olympics.
However, Richard Plugge, Jumbo-Visma’s Team Manager, described the Italian newspaper’s report as “premature”. He noted that they’re still in the process of establishing plans for the 2024 season. Plugge mentioned that formal planning meetings are scheduled for November, and only after one-on-one discussions with the riders in December will any definitive Grand Tour plans be confirmed for Van Aert.
Despite having taken part in the Tour de France five times, where he secured nine individual stage wins and last year’s green points jersey, van Aert has never been designated as Jumbo-Visma’s leader for a Grand Tour. The Italian reports strongly suggest that van Aert will be present for the Giro’s Grande Partenza in Venaria Reale on 4 May 2024.
Before potentially diving into the Giro, the 29-year-old is expected to set his sights on the Spring Classics, namely Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. The 2024 Giro route, which was recently unveiled, runs from 4-26 May and is already drawing attention for featuring iconic elements like the Passo dello Stelvio and segments of the Strade Bianche gravel course in stage six.
La Gazzetta further opines that the Giro route could be advantageous for van Aert, especially with the inclusion of 68km of individual time trial stages, a discipline in which he is a three-time national champion. Additionally, the route includes six mountain-top finishes, one of which culminates at Prati di Tivo in stage eight—a climb familiar to van Aert, who finished ninth there during the 2021 Tirreno-Adriatico.
Adding intrigue to next year’s Giro is the possibility that van Aert may compete against two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, who is also reported to be eyeing the Italian Grand Tour.
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