While Remco Evenepoel, Mathieu van der Poel, and many others have opted to ride next week's Benelux Tour as key preparation for the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, Wout van Aert has opted for a different approach as he targets both the time trial and road race titles on home roads.
Van Aert is about to conclude an 18-day block of altitude training in the Italian Alps and then will ride the Tour of Britain (September 5-12) before targeting the elite men’s time trial on Sunday September 19 and then the road race a week later on September 26.
The 43.3km time trial finishes in Bruges, near Van Aert’s home in northern Flanders, while the 268km road race starts in Antwerp and ends in Leuven after a rolling, multi-circuit route that seems perfect for the 26-year-old.
The race programme means Van Aert will not ride the European Championships in Trento, Italy a week before the Worlds but hopes his late-season peak extends until the rescheduled Paris-Roubaix on Sunday October 3.
Van Aert has been named as the team leader of the Belgian national team after his success in the last 18 months. He won three stages at the Tour de France - across the mountains, a time trial, and the final sprint in Paris - to confirm his multitude of talents, before winning a silver medal in the Olympic road race and finishing sixth in the time trial.
After returning from Tokyo, Van Aert left for Livigno in the Italian Alps on August 10 and will only return home at the weekend. His long training camp was made more bearable thanks to the presence of his wife Sara and young son Georges, while his long training rides were done with fellow Belgians Jan Bakelants and Jasper Stuyven in the absence of any of his Jumbo-Visma teammates who are busy racing across Europe. Van Aert has been mixing long road rides in the Alps with intense afternoon time trial sessions.
Van Aert and his coach Marc Lamberts opted for the different build-up to the World Championships after Van Aert was slowed in the early summer due to an appendicitis and then loaded with racing at the Tour de France and Tokyo Olympics.
The Tour of Britain offers several chances for victory, with hilly stages and an 18.2km time trial on stage 4 in North Wales which is a perfect dress rehearsal for the Worlds time trial, where Van Aert will go up against 2020 winner Filippo Ganna of Italy and Jumbo-Visma teammate Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands.
"The Tour of Great Britain comes at just the right time, much better than the Benelux Tour," Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Grischa Niermann explained to Het Laatste Nieuws.
"The fact that Wout will start in Great Britain means that he can stay at altitude and train for a week longer. It gives him more time to train and so better prepare for his last big goals of the season. The Tour of Britain route is very favourable. There are a lot of tough days with a lot of climbing and so Wout can benefit from it in the build-up to his fall goals."
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!
Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.