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Paris-Roubaix: Wout van Aert still suffering from Tour of Flanders crash

Van Aert has come to terms with missing the podium at the Tour of Flanders.

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ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Wout van Aert is still feeling the pain after his crash at last week’s Tour of Flanders but hopes he can recover in time to go all out at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

The Belgian was caught up in a mass pileup that eliminated several pre-Flanders contenders when Bahrain-Victorious rider Filip Maciejuk briefly lost control of his bike after he tried to pass the bunch on the grass next to the road.

While Van Aert was able to get back up and ultimately finished fourth, he took a big knock in the crash and is still feeling the impact four days on.

“I’m suffering a little bit from my knee and my ribs after Flanders, a bit more than I initially thought on Sunday,” Van Aert said outside his team bus in Roubaix after finishing his recon for Sunday’s race. “Until now, I haven’t really had a great feeling on the bike the last few days. I did two decent trainings today and yesterday and I hope I can recover a bit more before Sunday and find my legs again.”

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Van Aert was one of the top three favorites going into last weekend’s Tour of Flanders, alongside Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar. However, he was distanced by the other two on the Kruisberg and could do nothing to bring them back.

He would ultimately roll into the finish with the remnants of an earlier breakaway and had to settle for fourth after he was beaten by Mads Pedersen to the final podium spot. After a few days of mulling on the race, he’s come to terms with the result.

“At this moment, I just accept what happened. I got dropped by two riders who were just stronger last Sunday and that’s definitely not a shame,” he said. “I believe I’m still in the best form possible for this season. I hoped for more, I hoped that I could follow them but quite quickly after the race I changed my disappointment into accepting it, there’s no way around it.”

Wout van Aert chases alone at the Tour of Flanders
Wout van Aert chases alone at the Tour of Flanders (Photo: Gruber Images)

Still battered and bruised, Van Aert tested out the Roubaix cobbles Thursday with his teammates. Their bikes were caked in mud after the roads and pavé were doused in rain throughout the day.

More rain is expected Friday but the weather should dry up for the weekend. While the women’s race will likely still feature damp cobbles, they should be dry by Sunday’s jaunt across the pavé.

“I hope they will be completely different, because it was muddy and wet today. I think also the forecast will be more dried out. I did a wet Roubaix two years ago. It was not really pleasant and I’m hoping that Sunday will probably be dry,” Van Aert said.

“It’s a lot harder to handle the bike [when it’s wet] and especially harder to ride in someone’s wheels, you want to have a bit of vision of what is happening in front of you because it makes it even easier to split.”

During his recon, Van Aert was not riding using Jumbo-Visma’s new wireless tire pressure system. Several riders from the team have trialed the system, which allows riders to control the pressure in their tires while riding.

“It’s of course something that can maybe help us, it’s a huge advantage. We don’t want to give all of the secrets already,” he said when asked why he hadn’t tried it out Thursday.

He and the team are yet to decide if they will use the system in Sunday’s race and which riders will have it if they do.

“We’ll see on Sunday who will ride it. For sure, we always try to find new things and it’s a huge innovation,” Van Aert said, adding: “It’s easy to explain if you can have lower pressure on the cobbles and still have the normal pressure you’re used to on the tarmac, it’s a big benefit for all of the accelerations in between.”

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