“It was nice to be at the front again” - Wout van Aert fights 'without fear' to 4th in first sprint since returning from injury

Back in the peloton and back contesting for victories. After a quiet first two stages at the 2024 Tour of Norway, Wout van Aert was much more heavily involved on stage 3, sprinting to 4th place.

His first bunch sprint since suffering numerous injuries in a sprint-ending horror crash at Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier in the year, it would have been easy for the Team Visma | Lease a Bike star to hide in the wheels and shy away from the fight for the line. Instead, the Belgian was right at the front and looked good for victory at one point but perhaps lacking that finishing touch, eventually faded to fourth as BORA - hansgrohe's Jordi Meeus took the win.

“It was nice to be at the front again,” van Aert reflects with relative happiness in his post-stage interview with VTM. “It was a simple stage so it was worth trying. I'm quite happy with fourth place. I sat where I was supposed to sit. The team brought me perfectly, but it was the legs that I couldn't do anymore.”

After being something of a passenger on the opening crash, van Aert crashed again on stage 2 although thankfully managed to escape without serious injury. With this performance on stage 3, it is the surest sign yet that the 29-year-old is on the road to recovery. “A sprint at high speed suits me a little less, but I'm happy," concludes the Belgian's assessment. "I haven't had any fear in the peloton yet and that is also important. It's good that I'll get involved again soon.”

With Richard Plugge telling GCN from the Giro d'Italia that Team Visma | Lease a Bike are keeping a close eye on both van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard's recovery ahead of making their Tour de France selection, the team boss will surely be positive with this latest outing of van Aert.

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