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Wout van Aert will skip TT worlds to go all-in for road title

Van Aert, Evenepoel and Stuyven will anchor a strong Belgian worlds team to be finalized in late August.

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There won’t be a rainbow jersey in the individual time trial for Wout van Aert, at least not in 2022.

The Jumbo-Visma star reconfirmed his decision to skip the time trial race at the Wollongong world champions in September in order to go all-in for the road race world title.

Runner-up in both the 2020 and 2021 time trials, Van Aert wants to have maximum preparation and readiness for a run at the road race. The hilly parcours along Australia’s eastern coast is ideal for Van Aert.

Van Aert already said in May he’d probably not race the time trial in Australia, and he waited until after the Tour de France to confirm his decision with the Belgian national team.

Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws, Belgian national coach Sven Vanthourenhout said Van Aert told him last week he didn’t want to risk a clean shot at the road title by racing the time trial as well.

“On the one hand it is a shame, because with Van Aert at the start you have a great chance of a medal, but on the other hand I understand the decision,” Vanthourenhout told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Such a time trial is a heavy burden, and I understand that Wout wanted to make choices.”

In May, Van Aert said he handicapped his chances to win the road world title by his time trial efforts just days before. In 2020, he was second in both the time trial and road race, and last year, he was second again in the time trial, and ran out of gas on home roads in Flanders to finish 11th.

“It’s a mental issue. When Wout starts in the time trial, he takes a lot of pressure on his shoulders, because for a rider like him only the very highest is good enough. For someone else, a silver medal can be fantastic, but not for him,” Vanthourenhout said. “Last year, Wout walked around with a heavy feeling for a few days after the time trial — that silver played in his head.”

Van Aert also said he is targeting the one-day races in Canada in early September, and said the schedule and long travel to Canada and Australia did not add up.

Without Van Aert, Belgium can start with such riders as Yves Lampaert, winner of the opening time trial at the 2022 Tour de France, and Remco Evenepoel, who already said he is targeting the individual time trial at the Vuelta a España.

Evenepoel and Van Aert will share leadership duties for the Belgian road team, Vanthourenhout confirmed. Jasper Stuyven is also assured of a spot, and the final team will be announced in late August.

“I want to give them both a personal helper. For Wout, that is in principle Tiesj Benoot. For Remco that could be Yves,” he said. “If he is in the selection, he can immediately ride the time trial.”