Wout Van Aert, contender for the throne of the green jersey of Peter Sagan? – VeloNews.com

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For the first time in years, there could be a serious threat to Peter Sagan’s grip on the Tour de France green jersey.

The Slovakian may have won a record-breaking seven Tour titles in the past eight years, but that was before Wout van Aert became the winner of the monument he is today.

Sagan ruled the green jersey not just by round-trip sprint speed, but the ability to be ahead in every scenario, from tuck sprints to hilltop kicks and late breakaways. Savvy like never before, the 30-year-old was also sure to collect the intermediate points of the sprint to guarantee his chances for a green jersey, often taking the standings by deep margins.

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However, let’s face it, Sagan of 2020 is just not the force he was in his peak days of 2015 to 2017.

The Slovakian star has flown, by his own standards, relatively under the radar since racing resumed in August.

He failed to complete the attritional Strade Bianche and ended up with a podium split in both Milano-Torino and Milano-Sanremo. After that, he was sent to the Dauphiné to undergo kilometers of “character building” in the mountains and get back in shape for the Tour.

While Sagan is simmering, Van Aert is on a boil and might be too hot for Sagan to handle.

Entre Wout van Aert

Van Aert proves he can do everything from Strade Bianche to small group sprints. Photo: James Startt

Van Aert went from “star” to “superstar” status in August.

The young Belgian rode until the start of the restarted season, going solo to win Strade Bianche, beating Julian Alaphilippe to take Milano-Sanremo, and beating a who’s-who of light sprinters in the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné .

As if that weren’t enough, the 25-year-old then transported his bulky frame mountain after mountain to the Jumbo-Visma engine room of the Tour de l’Ain and Criterium du Dauphine. Clearly annoyed being inactive, he also crushed the Belgian time trial championships last week.

However, Wout has a grandiose team goal to contribute to in France this summer, and solo point hunting exploits will be secondary.

Just as his main role was to shoot Primož Roglič and co. across the Alps in Dauphiné, the 25-year-old plant knows that the same will be its own purpose at the Tour de France. For the first time in years, Team Ineos is not the one and only contender for the Tour, with Dutch team Van Aert booming and ready to move all in to defeat Egan Bernal and his Grenadier Ineos squad.

“In the Tour, we need all the strength to achieve this goal [of beating Ineos]Van Aert said after winning the national time trial last week.

As Sagan makes his way through France unhindered by household chores as the rest of his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates work to support GC guy Emanuel Buchmann, Van Aert could be left to work on the plains. and the lower slopes of the mountains in France. Van Aert is towing the party line, saying his team’s ambitions come before his Tour.

“I have had very good results so far. I am therefore very motivated to help my teammates, as I did on the Dauphiné ”, he declared. “Obviously, if I have the chance, the opportunity, to seek personal success, I’m going to go… but no, I won’t be wearing the green jersey.

“The points classification is a real daily job with the obligation to participate in intermediate sprints to gain as many points as possible. The green jersey will not be for this year but it will be a goal in the future, yes.

Duties to his team managers didn’t stop Van Aert from winning a stage at the Dauphiné, and with this year’s Tour filled with spicy stages that promise the unexpected, the Belgian thinks of those opportunistic moments to win some wins – but maybe not at those crucial mid-stage moments. sprint points – will be there.

“If there is a chance for me in a small five-day stage race, there will undoubtedly be chances in the Tour, which lasts three weeks,” said Van Aert. The last news after having overtaken the green jersey, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) for his victory at the Dauphiné.

Steps, yes. A green jersey? May be.

Better chances than the Belgian?

Bennett has the muscles and the brains to challenge the green. Photo credit: David Ramos / Getty Images

Impey is one of many heading to the Tour de France as a dedicated stage hunter who may have the freedom Van Aert lacks to challenge Sagan, with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Matteo Trentin (CCC-Team) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren) are also the type of lightweight and versatile sprinters who could go green on September 20 in Paris.

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) is the only man to have taken the green jersey during Sagan’s decade of domination – although he only succeeded thanks to the Slovakian’s mid-race disqualification. However, the versatile Australian is out of the Tour image this year, instead of making it to the Giro d’Italia.

As a true quick finisher who can break through a short climb, Bennett is perhaps Sagan’s biggest threat. Nonetheless, despite a confidence victory in the Tour of Wallonia earlier this month, the Irishman did not support himself against the invincible Van Aert.

“I put Wout van Aert first,” Bennett said when asked who would win the green Tour jersey. “Van Aert is so surreal, so strong,” he said. I saw him win in the Dauphiné, incredible. I will also try to go green, but it is on another level.

Van Aert is on the rise and has shown the world and his rivals that he can do anything. While domestic duty may exclude it from the race for the green as we head into the Tour, this year has proven that it’s time to expect the unexpected.

A derailment of Jumbo-Visma’s yellow jersey bid following accidents or disasters could see the team pivot to other ambitions. And if that were to happen, it’s a safe bet that his green light for Wout’s green jersey.

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