Wout van Aert: "The team is dear to my heart, and it's frustrating to see the bad luck we've been through" Cycling Videos
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Wout van Aert: "The team is dear to my heart, and it's frustrating to see the bad luck we've been through"

Wout van Aert: "The team is dear to my heart, and it's frustrating to see the bad luck we've been through"

Barely two months after his horrific fall in Dwars door Vlaanderen, Wout van Aert, the Belgian of Visma | Lease a Bike, is making a comeback in the Tour of Norway, which begins on Thursday. He spoke to the press the day before the four-day stage race in Scandinavia.

After his spring season abruptly ended on March 27, somewhere on the asphalt during the descent to Kanarieberg, Wout gradually returned to the competitive level through walking, mountain biking, Zwift, gravel biking and, finally, resuming cycling in the Belgian and Spanish outdoors. His comeback happened three weeks later than he had hoped, as Van Aert would have liked to start his first Giro d'Italia in Turin at the beginning of May.

Ultimately, his comeback will be in Voss, Norway, where the Tour of Norway starts on Thursday, with Thibau Nys also at the starting line. "I feel good and am especially happy to be here and to be able to race. I've been sidelined for a long time, so it's nice to be a cyclist again," the Belgian of Visma | Lease a Bike began his press chat.

"Everything has healed very smoothly, so I'm happy about that," Van Aert continued. "I initially underestimated it, which caused the recovery to drag on longer than I expected and hoped. A few times we thought that I was already back in form, and then I would suffer a setback, which was sometimes hard to accept. My real restart was only after three or four weeks, so there wasn't much left of my peak form. Two weeks ago, I went to Spain, and that is where I got back to really training. In Belgium, it was mostly cycling based on feeling."

"Watching races on TV was also getting tiresome. I wanted to return as soon as possible, and I pressed the team for it. This is a very nice race for that: not too long, but with a challenging course. My biggest fear? The worst-case scenario would be feeling some pain in the first stage and it getting worse, but we are being closely monitored here."

Continue reading below the photo.

wout van aert

Van Aert uses Tour of Norway as lead-up to the racing summer

The Tour of Norway is mainly seen as a lead-up, so the Visma | Lease a Bike team leader could not yet make specific statements about what would come next. "Performance-wise, I have very little ambition. I don't want to think about that. I'm mainly happy that I can participate in this race, be in the peloton, and take a step forward. The first goal is that I don't want to be too hindered by my injuries."

"I mainly want to see how it goes, so after the Tour of Norway we will assess how things went and what my next races will be. Hopefully, I can go home with confidence and then compete for wins in the big races of the summer. But it has to be step by step, as I've also realized that reality has caught up with me," he said realistically.

His injuries don't cause too much trouble when on the bike, but afterward, there is usually some struggle. "I can train well, but I still have some pain afterward. It's not completely healed yet. I mainly have trouble with my ribs. There were seven rib fractures, and they put tension on my muscles when I'm in a cycling position. When I sit on the bike for a long time, I have back pain. That's annoying. I don't want to be dramatic about it, because if it was bad, I wouldn't be here to cycle. I also had a lot of trouble with a scrape on my back in the first ten days, so that took a lot of energy."

Continue reading below the video.

Van Aert on Visma | Lease a Bike's bad luck year: "The team is dear to my heart"

While Van Aert was recovering, more misfortune befell Visma | Lease a Bike. "I saw Jonas crash live on TV, and it was really not nice to see. The team is dear to my heart, and it's frustrating to see the bad luck we've already encountered," said Van Aert. "It was not nice to see, but it was very beautiful to see how Olav won that stage despite all the bad luck. Then I thought we were off to a great Giro, but things went completely differently with Olav and Cian. So I too have been watching with mixed feelings."

Finally, he looked back at his own fall in Dwars door Vlaanderen. "I remember perfectly what happened. It wasn't a steering mistake, but suddenly I lost my handlebar and was on the ground. So that didn't leave me with a scary feeling. I saw a wall on the side of the road and tried to move towards it, but then I felt that something was really wrong. From then until I was in the hospital, I was in a lot of pain."

Over the weeks, it gradually got better, bringing him to the Tour of Norway. And that's not with the top form he had in the spring. "Paris-Roubaix was a very difficult day. I was taking painkillers and realized it was a long way off before I could race again. I felt super in Dwars door Vlaanderen until that fall, but it doesn't add anything to make statements now," he stated realistically as always.

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