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Wout van Aert aiming for a top result in Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche 2019 13th Edition Siena Siena 184 km 09032019 Wout Van Aert BEL Team Jumbo Visma Alexey Lutsenko KAZ Astana Pro Team photo Dario BelingheriBettiniPhoto2019
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Jumbo-Visma named its teams for a three upcoming races on Saturday, confirming that Belgian Wout van Aert is leading the team for the first WorldTour race following the coronavirus stoppage, Strade Bianche, on August 1.

Van Aert has finished on the podium in Siena twice and, having recovered from a devastating injury in a crash at last year's Tour de France, he's aiming for another strong result in the gravel road classic.

"Since the beginning of June, I've worked specifically towards the restart of the season," Van Aert said. "During the training camp in Tignes, we've put the finishing touches. My goal is to ride well immediately and to keep this as long as possible. Strade Bianche is a very nice race to start with."

Last year, Van Aert started his first full road season with Jumbo-Visma on a high, with third in Strade Bianche and second in the E3 BinckBank Classic before winning stages in the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. But after being gouged in the hip by a loose barricade during the time trial in the Tour last July, Van Aert has endured two surgeries and months of rehabilitation to return to the highest level.

He came into the 2020 season an unknown quantity but finished 11th in his first and only outing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before the coronavirus pandemic shut down all sporting events. Now, with racing making its tentative return amid strict sanitary protocols and COVID-19 tests, Van Aert is hoping to show he's back to his best.

"In the past, I rode good races after a training period, so that's what I'm hoping for. After two podium places, I'm aiming for a top result again."

At his side will be fellow Tour de France stage winner Mike Teunissen, who wore the maillot jaune after surprising in the opening stage, and Amund Jansen, Paul Martens, Maarten Wynants, Antwan Tolhoek and Bert-Jan Lindeman.

"They are all strong men. 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."

Jumbo-Visma for Strade Bianche: Wout van Aert, Amund Jansen, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Antwan Tolhoek, Mike Teunissen, Maarten Wynants

The team also named a large squad for the Heistse Pijl kermesse on the same day. The race is ten laps of 16km each and a good warm-up for sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, winner of stages in the UAE Tour and Volta a la Communitat Valenciana this year and two Tour stages last July. He's joined by Jos van Emden, Taco van der Hoorn and a number of riders from the U23 Development team.

Jumbo-Visma for Heiste Pijl: Jos van Emden, Taco van der Hoorn, Koen Bouwman, Dylan Groenewegen, Rick Pluimers, Lars Boven, Olav Kooij, Owen Geleijn, Archie Ryan, Mick van Dijke, Tim van Dijke, Hidde van Veenendaal

The Dutch team also named its squad for the Vuelta a Burgos, which begins on Tuesday, with Sepp Kuss and George Bennett leading the team in preparation for the Tour de France next month. 

Sports director Arthur van Dongen said, "After the training camps and a long break in this strange season, we're looking forward to the restart of the season. This Spanish stage race is a nice mix of hard sprints and uphill finishes. With Sepp and George, we have two strong climbers who'll go for a good position in the general classification."

Jumbo-Visma will have Timo Roosen and Pascal Eenkhoorn for the flatter stages, while Kuss and Bennett focus on stages 3, the first summit finale on Picón Blanco and another uphill finish on stage 5 to Lagunas de Neila. Development Team riders Gijs Leemreize and Finn Fisher-Black will join the team for the race.

Jumbo-Visma for Vuelta a Burgos: George Bennett, Sepp Kuss, Finn Fisher-Black, Pascal Eenkhoorn, Timo Roosen, Lennard Hofstede, Gijs Leemreize