Domestique-de-luxe Wout van Aert has already won two stage victories in the Tour de France, the days when he does not decimate the peloton in the climbs of the Pyrenees and the Alps on behalf of the team manager Primož Roglič. And now, with just an individual time trial and a tuck sprint to wrap up the race, the Belgian star may have the opportunity to attempt a hat-trick.
Equally capable of beating the best against the clock whether he dominates the best rapids or strangles the terrain on the mountain passes, the super-domestic Jumbo-Visma will have carte blanche during the last weekend of the Tour – provided he can make it work with its goals. for the world championships next week.
“The plan is for Wout to give his best shot in the time trial,” Jumbo-Visma head coach Mathieu Heijboer said. A D spectacle In the wheel Friday.
“We make these kinds of decisions together. He likes it and so do we, so he goes.
Saturday’s 36-kilometer time trial starts off fairly straightforward, although there is a twist to the story thanks to a dreaded six-kilometer kick to the line atop the Cat.1 climb of the Board of the Beautiful Girls. This time last year, the steep slopes of the final would likely have ruled out Van Aert for Saturday’s 20th stage, but since the season resumed this summer, the muscular Belgian has shown he can easily climb with those 10kg less than him.
“It will be difficult for him to win. He will have to make a gap with the best climbers in the first 30 kilometers of flat, ”said Heijboer. “Nowadays Wout is also a real climber, of course, but there is always a difference between a Wout and a Primož Roglič who climbs completely. If Wout wants to win the time trial, he probably needs a buffer of about 40 seconds on Roglič at the foot of the Planche des Belles Filles. ”
Van Aert’s approach on the climb will be left to the last minute, with the 26-year-old planning to make a late assessment of his form and fatigue. With ambitions on the rainbow stripes in the Imola World Championship time trial on Friday, Van Aert wants to leave something in his legs for his challenge in Italy.
“I always look forward to going… my coaches have to see how realistic the combination with the World Cup is,” Van Aert said on Friday. “They can estimate what I need to be on top next week. If the combination is possible, I won’t let the opportunity pass tomorrow.
“I won’t be driving 95% tomorrow. The choice is between going 100% or just making sure I arrive on time. All or nothing. ”
If Van Aert chooses to cool his jets on Saturday, a sprint victory on the Champs-Élysées on Sunday is also a possibility for him to achieve his treble of victories. However, with teammate Roglič now only 36km away from securing the yellow jersey, he may be too full of champagne for a sprint showdown on the Champs.
Jumbo-Visma already has the bubbles on ice ready for a party in Paris.
“If Primož is spared any bad luck, everything will be fine,” said Heijboer. “He’s very strong in this kind of time trial and he’s in his best form ever.”