Three-time UCI Cyclo-cross World Champion and 2019 Tour de France stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) appears to be on good form as the Belgian prepares to make his 2020 road season debut this weekend at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday.
Van Aert, who last raced on the road at the 2019 Tour before he abandoned the race after crashing in the stage 13 time trial, has been training in Tenerife, Spain, and recently stole a Strava KOM on the Spanish Island from four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Ineos).
Van Aert covered the Guía De Isora climb in 7:51, averaging 29.5kph over the 3.86km ascent that has an average grade of 4%. Froome had previously ridden the best time up the segment at 7:55. Other notable names on the segment leaderboard include Michal Kwiatkowski, Dylan van Baarle and Joe Dombrowski.
Van Aert crashed hard during the stage 13 individual time trial at the Tour in Pau last July, suffering a huge gash in his right hip when the barrier he hit sliced into his muscles and connective tissues. He underwent two surgeries to repair the damage and said he feared he would never walk again, much less race at the highest level in the sport.
Van Aert returned to racing in December during cyclo-cross season, however, jumping back into the fray at the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Azencross and finishing fifth. He finished fourth at the World Championships, won again by rival Matthieu van der Poel, and then scored an emotional victory at the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Krawatencross earlier this month.
Jumbo-Visma have added Van Aert to the 'Opening Weekend' roster for the Omloop, where the emerging Belgian road star will take the line as one of the favourites. After the Omloop, Van Aert is scheduled to start Strade Bianche on March 7.
Wout van Aert cheekily nicked a Tenerife Strava KOM from Froomey yesterday. Reckon he'll be going pretty well at #OmloopHetNieuwsblad on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/F0qBnZzwTmFebruary 26, 2020
Hey @chrisfroome, please don’t tell me you were just doing a little coffeeride? 🙏🏼😜 https://t.co/JT1ql3dFHYFebruary 27, 2020