Van Aert updates fans on Strava, Plugge discusses Belgian's comeback: "Making plans is for when he's back on the bike" Cycling

Van Aert updates fans on Strava, Plugge discusses Belgian's comeback: "Making plans is for when he's back on the bike"

Van Aert updates fans on Strava, Plugge discusses Belgian's comeback: "Making plans is for when he's back on the bike"

The big wipeout of the classic spring of 2024: the major crash involving Mads Pedersen and Wout van Aert in Dwars door Vlaanderen, on Wednesday, March 27. For Van Aert, this meant crossing out the remaining classics on his schedule. Visma | Lease a Bike doesn't expect him back any time soon and is preaching patience regarding the Belgian leader. Yet, his recovery is reportedly going well, and there's hope for a start in the Giro. Not in top form, of course, but with enough room for growth.

HLN reports that Van Aert is still experiencing significant discomfort from his superficial injuries and burns. However, the recovery from the fractures in his ribs, sternum, and collarbone is said to be progressing well, and the pain is diminishing. Team director Grischa Niermann told the newspaper that this doesn't change anything for the upcoming days and weeks. The team is keeping an eye on the situation, and the doctors are monitoring what the options might be regarding the Giro, for example.

On Wednesday, Van Aert showed positive signs by uploading a nearly four-kilometer walk on Strava. His good friend and former teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck also mentioned in the podcast 'Wuyts & Vlaeminck' that Van Aert is staying positive. "Wout and I have facetimed each other recently. He's positive. It made me happy to see how upbeat he was after his crash. That's the Wout I know. His positivity left me feeling good."

Van Aert has potential to excel in grand tours, as evidenced by his phenomenal Tour in 2021 with a stage win over the Ventoux

There is no way the world-class road and cyclocross cyclist can possibly be in top form at the start of the Giro d'Italia. However, it may not necessarily be essential to return from Italy with some results. Van Aert has previously proven to be a medical marvel. In the 2021 Tour de France, he perhaps had the best Grand Tour of his career, despite a preparation marred by bad luck that befell Jumbo-Visma in the first week.

In June of that year, Van Aert was dealing with an appendicitis inflammation and its aftermath. The Belgian hill specialist didn't make a significant impact in the first week, facing finishes that seemed tailor-made for him, like the Mur-de-Bretagne. However, in the last two weeks of the Tour, Van Aert progressively reached the form of his life, improving day by day. In the second week, he secured a victory over Mont Ventoux. He capped off the third week with a time trial win and a phenomenal sprint victory in Paris.

A similar scenario is now hoped for the 2024 Giro. Van Aert has meticulously planned this year. Though the first part fell through, the plans for the Giro and the Olympics are still in place. The Tour is not an option due to the short interval between the Olympics and the finish in Nice. If Van Aert makes it to the start of the Giro, he could improve during the race and still achieve some impressive results in the last two weeks.

Plugge hesitates to make definitive statements about Van Aert: "We can start planning from the moment he's back on the bike"

The team doesn't have a comeback plan for Van Aert yet, as team boss Richard Plugge told GCN. "We need to plan when he's ready. We have to make plans for the future, and that's a bit of a problem because we don't know when we can do that. It depends on how he progresses. We can't answer that at the moment. We don't know if he'll be back on the bike in a few weeks."

Whether the Giro is achievable and a serious goal, or whether Van Aert might compete in another grand our later in the year, is still uncertain and remains so for the time being. "We have to see how he recovers, how quickly that happens, and when he gets back on the bike. Then we'll make a plan," Plugge succinctly described the situation, sharing this insight with the British site just before the Tour of Flanders.

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