Van Aert under no illusions: "Wout is a smart guy, he knows the real situation" Cycling

Van Aert under no illusions: "Wout is a smart guy, he knows the real situation"

Van Aert under no illusions: "Wout is a smart guy, he knows the real situation"

The burning question leading up to the Tour de France is: will Wout van Aert compete? Currently, the Belgian from Visma | Lease a Bike is intensively training in Tignes, yet there’s still progress to be made. Team director Arthur van Dongen was there for the fall in Dwars door Vlaanderen, the comeback in Norway, and soon (hopefully) the Tour de France.

"Wait and see," is the common refrain at Visma | Lease a Bike regarding the physical condition of the Belgian and his Danish comrade Jonas Vingegaard. They are currently - along with European champion Christophe Laporte - completing a high-altitude training in the French mountains, hoping to be in top shape for the Grand Départ in Italy.

While Laporte (fall in the Giro) and Vingegaard (involved in the crash in the Basque Country) have not raced since their falls, Van Aert made his return at the end of May in the Tour of Norway. Van Dongen observed that it was a mixed performance. "If you see the finish of the first day, that is normally a typical Wout van Aert finish. But now you could see that he just fell short, and then it's simply over."

Eventually, the Belgian was able to compete for prizes in the last two flatter stages and thus left Norway with some respectable finishes under his belt. This quickly dispelled the lesser feelings of the first two days. "What's hardest for him is that it's difficult to suffer just to be dropped as much as it is to suffer to compete for the win," explains Van Dongen, who saw that Van Aert had no illusions and still has none during the recovery from all his fractures. "It was a shift, but ultimately he understands it too. Wout knows perfectly well where he stands, he's a smart guy who knows exactly how things are."

"Ultimately, Wout came out of Norway feeling good," he summarizes. "He had four good days of racing there, has improved, and is now training well. The Belgian Championship will then be a good test, with a tough course as I've heard. It would be great if we can see where he stands there."

wout van aert peloton klassiekers

"Good signals, but Van Aert and Vingegaard are not yet where they need to be"

Of course, the condition of Van Aert and Vingegaard is also discussed within the staff of Visma | Lease a Bike. "The signals I'm getting are that things are going well. But they are still far from where they need to be. That can still come; we still have a few weeks." What conclusion can Van Dongen draw now? "In itself, these are good signals, but the preparation is anyway different from the usual preparation. In any case, there remain question marks towards the Tour, that's just how it is."

"We first need to determine who’s fit to participate in the Tour," the sports director reflects, following the falls of Dylan van Baarle and Steven Kruijswijk. "What form they’ll be in and what their objectives might be will come later. We’ll take it step by step. After the Dauphiné and Switzerland, we'll review everything with the riders who competed and also check in on those training in Tignes, who will be further along in their preparations."

How was the crash of the two Dutchmen received in the group chat of the team management of the Dutch formation? "Initially, of course: fuck. We knew right away: this is terribly frustrating. At first, it was still a matter of waiting or hoping, but eventually, we knew the situation. That's terribly frustrating, especially for those guys themselves. But they remain cyclists and as soon as they hit the ground they actually already set new goals. So to speak, they think: 'If I train well now, I can still make the Vuelta.' But we’ll have to wait and see," he concludes, echoing his earlier sentiment which now becomes a central theme as the Tour approaches.

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