Jumbo-Visma and Van Aert do have a limit: "They really raced to hurt Wout" Cycling

Jumbo-Visma and Van Aert do have a limit: "They really raced to hurt Wout"

Jumbo-Visma and Van Aert do have a limit: "They really raced to hurt Wout"

On Thursday, Jumbo-Visma aimed to execute their well-practiced strategy as they've done all year: ride hard, control the race, and position their lead rider for the win. However, in Gran Piemonte, it didn't pan out as Wout van Aert couldn't find the strength during the decisive climb, and his teammates had already exhausted themselves earlier in the race. Post-race, IDLProCycling.com caught up with Van Aert, Wilco Kelderman and team director Marc Reef.

Van Aert was supposed to be the one to clinch the win on Thursday. However, on the Alpette, easily the steepest climb of the day with an average gradient of 8.8% over five kilometers, the Belgian had to admit defeat. "The course was challenging, and I think I needed to be in better shape to survive this race. It started very fast as everyone wanted to be well-positioned. We struggled to let the right breakaway group go, and they turned out to be quite strong. It felt like we were playing catch-up all day. We had to maintain the pace constantly, and the steep climb was just too much for me," he said in a candid assessment.

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Jumbo-Visma and Van Aert do have a limit: "They really raced to hurt Wout"
Wout van Aert

Jumbo-Visma was under heavy pressure

The Jumbo-Visma team stepped up when several groups attempted to break away during the opening phase. Team director Reef suggests that might be the reason they fell short in the finale. "It starts with the legs. The climb where things fell apart (the Alpette, ed.), was quite fair. But even before that, there was intense racing aimed at hurting Wout, with Jayco-AlUla's Michael Matthews going all out for Simon Yates. We couldn't keep up on that tricky climb, and although we tried to rectify it afterward, we were too far behind. The story ends there. It was a super-fast finale, so you have to accept the outcome."

Five kilometers at 8.8% is just on the edge for Van Aert, and on Thursday, it proved to be too much. "I can handle such an effort, but the race was too challenging even before that climb. I'm disappointed because my teammates gave it their all, but it wasn't meant to be," said the team leader, denying that the Italian autumn races were less important than the upcoming gravel World Championships on Sunday. "If I was here just to prepare for Sunday, I wouldn't have asked my team to work so hard."

Continue reading below the photo.

Jumbo-Visma and Van Aert do have a limit: "They really raced to hurt Wout"
Van Aert post-race, resigned...

Jumbo-Visma looks to Lombardy, Van Aert to the Gravel World Championships

"It's a pity it didn't work out," Van Aert continues. "But we all did our best, and today it just didn't come together. The team believed in me and went for it, but it didn't pan out." Wilco Kelderman agreed, mentioning that he was feeling "pretty bad" after the Vuelta. "This is racing, not a video game. Today showed that. We wanted to control the race for Wout, set the pace on the climb, and hope the pace wouldn't be too high. But it was tough. But it was tough. In Tre Valli Varesine, my legs still felt pretty good, but today wasn't that great, actually."

"Cry it out and start over, not something they often experience at Jumbo-Visma. Fortunately, there are two major appointments on Saturday and Sunday to get back into a winning mood. "It has been a tough season, but everyone's facing the same challenges. On Saturday, we'll start the Tour of Lombardy with Primoz (Roglic, ed.), along with a few guys who raced here today. It's a different race, one we'll be ready for," says Reef. Van Aert, on the other hand, is looking forward to the World Championship gravel on Sunday, in Treviso. "Sunday is a completely different race, one I'm really looking forward to. It's a new challenge and a special race. It's a great way to end the season, where we can give it another shot. It's going to be beautiful."

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