Wout van Aert is looking to start strong and stay that way when the season restarts next weekend.
Van Aert is planning to click back into top gear on the steep climbs and white roads of Strade Bianche August 1 and stretch out his form through a long season that winds through the Champs-Élysées of the Tour de France in September, the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders in October, and the mud of the winter ‘cross season.
First up in the 25-year-old’s ambitious schedule is the Strade Bianche next weekend. Having twice taken third-place, the gravelly roads of Tuscany have proven to work well with van Aert’s multi-discipline skillset.
“Strade Bianche is a very nice race to start with. In the past, I rode good races after a training period, so that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “After two podium places, I’m aiming for a top result again.”
Van Aert has spent recent weeks at altitude in the French Alps along with those set to join him in Jumbo-Visma’s GC challenge at this summer’s Tour. Although his Dutch team’s major goal for the year is to topple Ineos from their Tour de France perch, they are also packing options in the classics with the likes of Mike Teunissen and Norweigan champion Amund Jansen, with both set to join van Aert at Strade Bianche.
“They are all strong men,” Van Aert said of the team backing him next Saturday. “That’s why I think that not only I should be ambitious, but also riders like Mike and Amund. We will do everything to get a good result.”
After Strade Bianche, van Aert will be back in action at Milano-Torino August 5. Although the cobbles of Roubaix and Flanders are over 10 weeks after the Italian races, van Aert is hoping to hold his form through the cluttered and chaotic post-COVID season.
“During the training camp in Tignes, we’ve put [on] the finishing touches,” van Aert said. “My goal is to ride well immediately and to keep this as long as possible.