Van Aert already mentions handful of names as rivals of Visma | Lease a Bike for Omloop and debut in Kuurne Cycling

Van Aert already mentions handful of names as rivals of Visma | Lease a Bike for Omloop and debut in Kuurne

Van Aert already mentions handful of names as rivals of Visma | Lease a Bike for Omloop and debut in Kuurne

With a slight delay, a relaxed Wout van Aert arrived at the Visma | Lease a Bike press conference on Thursday. The 29-year-old cyclist from Kempenaar will be starting alongside Christophe Laporte, Dylan van Baarle, Tiesj Benoot, Jan Tratnik, and Matteo Jorgensen, among others, in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. It's an impressive lineup, to say the least. That's why Van Aert prefers not to hide and plans to race aggressively. was present at the press conference.

"We definitely won't be hiding," Van Aert answered the first question at the press conference. "We have a very strong team here, and there are even some guys who aren't present. That gives us a significant advantage in the race, and that's why we can aim to win both races (Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, editor's note). We have the quality to dictate the race, so there's no need for us to play games. We can race according to our strengths."

On Thursday, a storm swept across Belgium: Storm Louis. Local gusts reached up to 110 kilometers per hour, accompanied by heavy precipitation. "That certainly makes the race more challenging," Van Aert continued. "The weather forecast has changed a few times: initially, it was supposed to be dry, but now there's a chance of rain again. We'll be keeping a close eye on it. With the temperature not being too high, it's already altering the dynamics of the course."

Van Aert already mentions handful of names as rivals of Visma | Lease a Bike for Omloop and debut in Kuurne

Van Aert tips Mohoric, Wellens, and Alaphilippe as favorites

Who or what else will Van Aert avoid during the Omloop? "Riders like Matej Mohoric or Tim Wellens will definitely be in the mix," the Kempen native discusses the competition. "We can't underestimate Tom Pidcock or Arnaud De Lie either. I always consider Julian Alaphilippe as well. Although he had a slightly less impressive performance last year, he always plays a decisive role, and I don't expect anything different this time. It's a highly competitive field of participants." The Frenchman recently found himself at the center of controversy when Soudal-Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere cited alcohol and his wife Marion Rousse as factors affecting his performance. "I prefer to stay away from that; fortunately, I'm not in such a situation," Van Aert commented on the incident.

In Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Per Strand Hagenes will replace pace-setter Eduardo Affini. Alongside Jan Tratnik, the young Norwegian talent has the demanding task of fulfilling Nathan van Hooydonck's role, but Van Aert doesn't see it that way. "They're not simply filling in for Nathan. His role was more about positioning me at crucial points in the race with his knowledge of the course. Additionally, he could endure until the finale. Jan and Per have a different role; they may not focus on positioning me at the front, but they'll sacrifice themselves in other ways. They're both fantastic guys, very kind and strong. Jorgensen is also a promising talent with great ambition. Although I didn't train with him during altitude training, I have a very positive first impression of him, and I see that he fits well within the team structure."

Van Aert already mentions handful of names as rivals of Visma | Lease a Bike for Omloop and debut in Kuurne

Van Aert starts for the first time in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

In the second spring classic of the opening weekend, Van Aert will be on the start list for the very first time. "I don't know the course in Kuurne very well because of that. It's somewhat unfamiliar terrain, but the fact that we also have some hills in Wallonia motivates me. There are enough challenges there too, because in Kuurne, it's even harder to predict the course. Last year we succeeded, and this year we'll try something similar."

In Kuurne, regular top sprinter Olav Kooij will not be starting. The Dutchman is currently competing in the UAE Tour, which doesn't conclude until Friday. The Killer Bees will therefore begin without a dedicated sprinter, notes another journalist present. "I can also do some sprinting," Van Aert remarks with a laugh. "Laporte is certainly not slow either, but the game plan remains the same: to dictate the race. Christophe is definitely one of the favorites; he just hasn't been able to show it yet. It's reassuring to have someone like Christophe or myself in the mix."

Following the opening weekend, Van Aert will return to Spain for altitude training. He won't resume competition until late March at the E3 Saxo Classic. "The build-up to the spring was primarily focused on the opening weekend," Van Aert admits. "We aimed to prepare as well as possible for these races, and I've put in enough effort to do just that. At the moment, I'm not yet focusing on altitude training. These aspects are completely separate for now."

Selection Visma | Lease a Bike - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Dylan van Baarle
Wout van Aert
Tiesj Benoot
Christophe Laporte
Jan Tratnik
Matteo Jorgenson
Edoardo Affini (replaced Per Strand Hagenes in Kuurne

0 claps
0 visitors

Place comments



More comments

You are currently seeing only the comments you are notified about, if you want to see all comments from this post, click the button below.

Show all comments

More Cycling News