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Wout van Aert squeezes brakes on yellow jersey ambition at Tour de France
A recent surgery for appendicitis has delayed Wout van Aert‘s build to the Tour de France.
The Jumbo-Visma star was operated on earlier this month and had to pause his training for some time, forcing him to skip the Critérium du Dauphiné, starting Sunday.
The delay has also forced van Aert to reevaluate his ambitions for the opening week of the Tour, where a series of hilly sprint stages had seen him eyeing an early maillot jaune.
“The original plan was to grow to my best form after the Dauphiné and to be top from the first Tour week,” van Aert told Het Nieuwsblad.
“That first week consists of difficult sprint rides and a time trial. That suits me very well. I had made a big goal of the yellow jersey in the first week, I fear that this is no longer realistic. I will have to have more patient until I will be really top this summer.”
Van Aert has not raced since winning the Amstel Gold Race in mid-April. After recovering from his appendicitis surgery, he joined his teammates at a team camp in Sierra Nevada.
“That operation brought me to a standstill for an extra week. Four weeks after Amstel Gold I had to start over from scratch. You can compare that to a winter break,” he said.
“In principle, I can achieve a good level of form through training and altitude camps, but it is uncertain what level I will be able to achieve. Every day I try to push my boundaries without forcing it. The fact that the Dauphiné has been scrapped [from my schedule] gives me room to build up quietly.”
Van Aert is set to play a key part in Jumbo-Visma and Primož Roglič’s yellow jersey ambition at the Tour this summer. Van Aert is hoping that he will ride himself back to top shape in the opening week of the race after missing out on any pre-Tour tune-up competitions.
After the Tour, the Olympics, world championships and rescheduled Paris-Roubaix will round van Aert’s busy season.
“I still hope to be on top form during the Tour, but that is anything but a certainty. If that doesn’t work, I am sure that I will be top after the Tour,” he said.
“I’m not worried at all about Tokyo and the autumn with the worlds and Paris-Roubaix. If everything now goes according to plan and I can complete my training without delay, I can take many steps. Such a setback is never convenient, but because of what I have already experienced in the past, I can better manage this period.”