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The Jumbo-Visma star can do it all, but he will putting targets on the two objectives that so far have eluded him in his otherwise prolific road career.
A “monument” victory on the cobbles and the world title are at the top of the priorities for 2023.
“Green was a great adventure, but stage victories are more memorable and the world championship is the higher goal,” Van Aert told Sporza. “That’s why I don’t want to focus on the points for green from the start.”
— Exact Cross (@Exact_Cross) December 23, 2022
Van Aert won three stages in the 2022 Tour en route to barnstorming to the green jersey, all the while playing the role of bulldozer for eventual winner Jonas Vingegaard.
Van Aert didn’t discount green at the Tour, but said he won’t start in Bilbao with it as a primary goal.
“That can become a goal during the Tour, but I will choose my days, and in the final week you still have many opportunities,” said Van Aert, who won Friday’s cyclocross race at Mol.
A yellow jersey title defense is at the very top of Jumbo-Visma’s goal in 2023, with Vingegaard already committed to racing the Tour.
All in for the northern classics, worlds
The 2023 racing calendar is forcing Van Aert to make some choices.
With the worlds stacked up just two weeks after the Tour, set for August in Scotland as part of the UCI’s “mega” worlds, Van Aert hopes to carry momentum out of the Tour and straight into a rainbow jersey bid.
Van Aert revealed his road calendar, which includes skipping the “opening weekend” at Belgium’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Instead, he will debut his 2023 road season at Strade Bianche, and hopefully barnstorm all the way through Paris-Roubaix.
“This way I have a week longer to go on altitude training for Strade. The past has shown that altitude training is a formula for success,” Van Aert said.
In 2022, Van Aert was sidelined at the Ronde van Vlaanderen with a COVID-19 infection, and raced to second at Roubaix.
That only sweetens the pot for Van Aert, who is determined to win both during his career at least once. At 28, he knows the opportunities are diminishing over time.
“I want to win Flanders and or Roubaix,” he said during the team presentation this week. “That hasn’t changed.”
With the worlds providing a unique mid-summer date, Van Aert wants to make up for lost opportunities at 2021 Leuven and 2022 Wollongong, won by compatriot Remco Evenepoel in dramatic fashion.
He also confirmed he will race the world time trial race, which he skipped in Wollongong.
Wout van Aert’s racing calendar in 2023
E3 Saxo Classic
Tour of Flanders
Tour de Suisse
Tour de France
Road worlds Glasgow