José de Cauwer hopes for Wout van Aert to have freedom at Tour de France: "If it is again to wait for Vingegaard in the gravel stage, for example, then I think it is a shame"

José de Cauwer is one of the most vocal voices in Belgian cycling and many take his opinion into great consideration. Naturally, he is a big defender of Wout van Aert and hopes the Team Visma | Lease a Bike rider isn't held by the team's ambitions at the Tour de France.

"Wout will be fine. He had a very bad crash, but that was a long time ago. His team even thought about sending him to the Giro, but they wisely decided against it," de Cauwer argues in words to Sporza. "Van Aert has had time to reset and be ready for the Tour. I hope for Wout and for Belgium that he can do his own thing. That he can dig deep where he wants, to possibly win stages and pursue his own goals. If it is again to wait for Vingegaard in the gravel stage, for example, then I think it is a shame."

That has happened in the past and van Aert is expected to have a domestique role for Vingegaard throughout the race. The Belgian was not initially expected to race the Tour and is still on the comeback from severe injuries suffered in the spring. He may have the chance to fight for stage wins but it will largely depend on his and Vingegaard's form throughout the three weeks - alongside the team's ambitions. But naturally, he will be racing with an eye on the Olympic Games, as was the case with the World Championships last year.

"But I mainly think that he will use this Tour towards the Olympic Games. The fact that Van Aert is now riding the Tour with the Games in mind has everything to do with last year. Then Mathieu van der Poel completed the Tour incognito, but at the World Championships he lashed out a few weeks later," de Cauwer argues. "The competition may have learned from that."

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