"He's among the five best riders in the world, so he belongs in the Tour de France" - Nathan van Hooydonck hopeful for Wout van Aert

After a tricky and crash-marred opening few months to the 2024 season, Wout van Aert's plans for a Giro d'Italia debut were curtailed. With Jonas Vingegaard also having crashed out at the Itzulia Basque Country, there is talk of van Aert being drafted into the Tour de France lineup later this summer.

"I think he belongs there," van Aert's recently retired, former Team Visma | Lease a Bike teammate, Nathan van Hooydonck assesses of the Belgian on Eurosport. "He's among the five best riders in the world, so he belongs in the Tour de France."

With van Aert currently using the Tour of Norway as a way to boost his recovery, the 29-year-old was involved in another crash on stage 2 on Friday afternoon. Thankfully, except for some cuts and some blood, he wasn't too damaged and was able to remount and finish the stage. “I fell because a teammate hit someone else's wheel," van Aert said post-stage. "An oversight, I could no longer avoid the fall, but I didn't hurt myself.”

"After this week, the Tour of Norway will tell us a lot about how he is doing," van Hooydonck continues. "I think also he needs to make the choice 'do I want to go to the Tour de France even though I might not be 100 per cent?' That's the highest level in cycling, he's used to winning stages in the Tour de France. He can be an asset to our team [Team Visma | Lease a Bike], so I'm curious."

"He's still in rehab actually, he's not there to win races, he's there to try and make another step towards future goals wherever they might be," he concludes. "The first time racing again - you can do all the training you want - but we all know as soon as you start racing, somebody else puts up the tempo and you need to try and follow it. In training you put up the tempo yourself and if it hurts a little bit you can always take off a little bit of gas. During this week we will see how good his recovery has been so far."

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