Ever since the junior ranks, Wout Van Aert has been on a continually-upward trajectory, winning three cyclo-cross World Championships in a row, twice landing on the podium at Strade Bianche, before taking two stages at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné and a stage of the 2019 Tour de France. But then came the first big hurdle in the Belgian's career; a career-threatening crash during the stage 13 time trial around Pau.
The crash led to Van Aert doubting whether he'd walk again, yet just 161 days later, the 25-year-old made his return to racing, placing 5th at Azencross on December 27th.
A month on, and after a run of top-five finishes, it was announced that Van Aert will line up at the World Championships, and he will do so aboard his Bianchi Zolder Pro, a new cyclo-cross bike that's yet to be released by Bianchi.
We recently got a closer look at the bike ahead of the final World Cup round in Hoogerheide.
While the former Zolder Pro struck a more traditional double-triangle silhouette, the 2020 model sees a more contemporary design, following the industry trend of dropped seatstays. Unsurprisingly for a cyclo-cross bike, there is an abundance of clearance for Van Aert's 33c A.Dugast tubular tyres, which are glued to Shimano Dura-Ace tubular wheels.
Jumbo Visma's sponsorship with Vision is evident, with the Belgian running the Vision Metron 6D integrated cockpit, and despite long being a user of SRAM's eTap and eTap AXS groupsets, Van Aert's switch to the Dutch team sees him piloting Shimano components.
Upfront, he is using a two-by Dura-Ace chainset with 46/30 chainrings and at the rear, this is paired with a Dura-Ace 11-30T cassette. Van Aert has chosen to forego Shimano's more off-road-friendly GRX componentry in favour of the range-topping Dura-Ace kit. Braking also comes courtesy of the Japanese brand, with flat-mount disc calipers paired with 140mm rotors front and rear.
It also looks as though Van Aert is using a pair of Shimano prototype SPD pedals, and while no mention of the model name is printed, we can only assume they will be the new XTR model.
Scroll through the gallery above for a closer look at Wout Van Aert's Bianchi Zolder Pro cyclo-cross bike.
Wout Van Aert's Bianchi Zolder Pro full bike specifications
Frameset: Bianchi Zolder Pro
Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Hydraulic Disc caliper
Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Hydraulic Disc caliper
Brake/shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9170 Hydraulic Disc Brake Dual Control Lever
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9100 11-30T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 w/ 46/30T chainrings
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace
Wheelset: Shimano C60 tubular
Tyres: A.Dugast 33c tubular
Handlebars: Vision Metron 6D Integrated handlebar and stem
Handlebar tape: FSA Ultracork tape
Stem: Vision Metron 6D Integrated handlebar and stem
Pedals: Shimano Prototype XTR
Saddle: Fizik Antares
Seat post: FSA SL ud carbon
Bottle cages: N/A
Rider height: 1.87m