Don’t expect to see the peloton sprint and crush the 2020 Wout van Aert Mountain during this summer’s Tour de France.
After undergoing an appendectomy in May and spending several weeks without a bike, the Belgian ace says he’s still getting back in shape after missing out on vital training time.
“I’m not where I should be yet, but I feel more than good,” van Aert told Sporza. From Tribune Podcast. “I’m ready to run. I was initially hoping to put the finishing touches on my form this week, now it’s just about building the base.
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Van Aert was the ultimate Swiss army knife runner in Jumbo-Visma’s toolbox last summer. Van Aert rode the entire 2020 Tour, setting the tempo deep in the mountains, guiding Primož Roglič through difficult hilly and windy stages, and sprinting twice to win stages.
After choosing to train at altitude and make up for lost time rather than running the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month, van Aert is lowering expectations ahead of this year’s Tour, which kicks off next Saturday.
“With this condition I might have to be a little more patient,” van Aert said on Saturday. “I’m not really aiming for pure group sprints, other guys have a line for that. I have a better chance on the more difficult finishes.
Van Aert is also aware of having to stretch his form during the Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympic road races come just a week after the Tour arrives in Paris, so van Aert is hoping to leave some gas in the tank for the Tokyo Time Trial.
“I won’t be able to work uphill this year like last year, because I still have a lot of ambition after the Tour,” he said.
“My role is more in the windy races and the eventful finals. That’s why the green jersey is not a goal. You have to get this jersey by filling it up everyday – you don’t get it easily. “
Although van Aert has dismissed his hopes of massive sprints, he remains optimistic for the Tour’s two time trials in stages 5 and 20.
“The time trials are marked in red. I was able to do all the time trial training, also in view of Tokyo, ”he said. “I hope to be at the right level, but if I’m only fit for the time trial at the end of the Tour, then I’m a happy man too. “
Van Aert returns to racing for the first time in more than two months in the Belgian national road race on Sunday, where he will face Remco Evenepoel and Tim Merlier for the iconic tricolor jersey. His performance in Belgium this weekend may give some clues as to what to expect on the roads of France later this month.