Wout van Aert has stated that he’s looking for to widen his horizons on the highway, aiming to focus on a brand new set of races with Jumbo-Visma as quickly because the 2021 season, with weeklong stage races in his sights.
The Belgian was one of many prime performers of 2020, profitable Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and two levels of the Tour de France, in addition to taking runner-up spots within the Tour of Flanders and in each the highway race and time trial on the Imola Worlds.
Van Aert’s efficiency on the Tour de France, the place he confirmed off a knack for climbing as a super-domestique for Primož Roglič, had some asking whether or not he might remodel right into a Grand Tour rider. He dismissed that on the time however has stated that stage races and hilly Classics are amongst his future targets.
“Increasing my Basic palmarès stays a precedence. Possibly sooner or later I’ll change course, however that’s nonetheless a great distance off,” Van Aert stated in an interview with Sport/Voetbalmagazine.
“I might additionally wish to shine first in Tirreno-Adriatico, the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. Within the shorter time period that’s potential, particularly in stage races with a time trial, equivalent to Tirreno-Adriatico. I would wish to go for a GC end in 2021, and later in the hilly classics equivalent to Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia.”
The 26-year-old additionally stated that he rediscovered his ardour for the game throughout his lengthy restoration from his crash on the 2019 Tour de France. He suffered a deep thigh gash after hitting a barrier within the Pau time trial, solely returning to racing in the course of the cyclo-cross season in late December.
“While you’re glued to your hospital mattress after which your sofa for a month, you understand how a lot enjoyable biking is,” he stated.
“I did not used to consider that; it was self-evident. Now, whereas biking, I believe much more how a lot I wish to be a bicycle owner.
“At a sure level, I additionally disconnected myself from destructive ideas, I not consistently asking myself whether or not it might nonetheless be all proper. I targeted on rehabilitation. That is how the sportsman in me got here again once more.”
Getting back from a number of months off the bike, he was crushed handily by long-time rival Mathieu van der Poel after they met in a number of ‘cross races by the winter.
He flipped the script on the highway within the rescheduled 2020 season, taking Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche victories as Van der Poel completed exterior the highest 10, and he then starred on the Tour de France and Worlds. The Dutchman needed to wait till the Tour of Flanders to get the higher of him.
Van Aert recommended that the notion of their rivalry is completely different on the highway.
The 2 are invariably separated and superior from the remainder on the cyclo-cross discipline, the place Van der Poel typically comes out on prime, whereas the pair have been each winners when competing towards far deeper fields and greater rivals in the course of the 2020 highway season.
“Final season I achieved related performances as Mathieu previously in many various prime races. I’m actually pleased with that,” Van Aert stated of his 2020 highway success.
“Even when Mathieu beats me, like within the Tour of Flanders, I’m nonetheless the second finest on this planet. That is not unhealthy both.
“Luckily, the notion on the highway is completely different than in ‘cross. As a result of there, it solely goes between the 2 of us, the crushed one is at all times the ‘loser’ who’s worse than the opposite. However when, as in Flanders, we blow different prime riders off our wheel, then everybody realizes how good we’re.”
The disagreement after Van der Poel marked him carefully at Gent-Wevelgem means the 2 stay rivals.
“In cyclo-cross, the place we stand out, it is completely different. I believe extra about Mathieu in the course of the week: about how I can beat him, and the way I can regulate my coaching to his strongest qualities,” Van Aert stated.
“Shedding a ‘cross will definitely be simpler to simply accept than being crushed within the Tour of Flanders. Not that the cross is a sideshow, nevertheless it has develop into rather less necessary than the highway.”