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Wout van Aert to line up at Paris-Roubaix in support role

SANREMO ITALY MARCH 19 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma competes during the 113th MilanoSanremo 2022 a 293km one day race from Milano to Sanremo MilanoSanremo on March 19 2022 in Sanremo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout van Aert will line up at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, making his return from COVID-19, with Jumbo-Visma saying medical staff had cleared the Belgian rider to resume racing but that his preparation had been less than ideal. 

Van Aert last raced at Gent-Wevelgem but missed the Tour of Flanders after testing positive for COVID-19. He was also absent from the Amstel Gold Race but had reportedly been seen training in Spain. That raised the prospect that he would line up at Paris-Roubaix, where he took seventh in the wet and muddy conditions last year. 

Jumbo-Visma said they had monitored his situation closely and a doctor has been with Van Aert for four days to gauge his body's reaction to the training.

"He also had very extensive examinations before he resumed training," sports director Merijn Zeeman said in a statement. 

"At the beginning of this week, the medical staff determined that he is fully fit and can continue his efforts at top sporting level."

Before his COVID-19 infection, Van Aert was a favourite for Paris-Roubaix, having taken victory at E3 Saxo Bank Classic in a powerful show of team force that delivered a first and second place, with Christophe Laporte. However Jumbo-Visma warned that the Belgian champion can't be expected to pick up where he left off.

"On the functioning of the heart, among other things. Wout's health is in excellent shape. But after a week of isolation, top form is no longer possible," said Zeeman. 

"His run-up to Roubaix is poor and he will miss the reconnaissance on Thursday. All in all, it is anything but an ideal preparation. However, a rider like Wout can still play a role in supporting Christophe Laporte, Mike Teunissen or Nathan Van Hooydonck."

Teunissen, for one, welcomed the bolstering of the team strength. 

"We have shown all spring that riding with a strong team is good," said Teunissen, who came seventh at Paris-Roubaix in 2019. 

"You can really make each other stronger. It is a man-to-man fight, but it is still nice to have good guys around you. That is always an extra advantage."

The Jumbo-Visma squad for Paris-Roubaix will also include Edoardo Affini, Mick van Dijke and Timo Roosen.

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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.