It was from Tignes where he is training that Wout van Aert attended Remco Evenepoel’s demonstration this Thursday at Gavere. He will not return to the country today to defend his title of champion of Belgium, Sunday in Middelkerke. Officially, he suffers from the knee. This was announced by his team on Thursday morning to explain his package. “The last few days, Wout felt a little pain”they say at Jumbo-Visma.
“It’s a shame not to be able to take part in the Belgian championship. Normally, I would never have missed this meeting but it’s the wisest decision because I don’t want to take the slightest risk in view of the Tour de France”reacted the person concerned, who has not posted his training data on Strava since Monday, June 20.
This, of course, does not mean that he is at a standstill. Besides, nothing says that van Aert is injured. It could be that his training did not want him to join the peloton before the start of the Grande Boucle next Friday. This, in order to limit the risks of contracting the Covid which is once again circulating more in society and, particularly, among cyclists. A week away from the big start in Copenhagen, a positive coronavirus test would most likely mean a withdrawal from the Tour.
This is, moreover, also what prompted Mathieu van der Poel, Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar to ignore their respective championships. Faced with the fears present in the little queen, the organizers of the Tour de Belgique have tightened the screw: the spectators will have to wear the mask again on Sunday.
On the sporting level, van Aert’s package reshuffles the cards for Sunday. “In the absence of the big favourite, there is an opening for Jasper Philipsen and Arnaud De Lie. I now put them on an equal footing”assures our consultant Johan Museeuw. “It’s true that the Alpecin-Fenix may have a little more pressure on their shoulders, but De Lie has already won several times this year. In addition, he will be able to count on a very solid team.”
And he will have one less famous adversary!