"There are races other than the Tour in July" - Belgian national coach unsure Wout van Aert should ride the Tour de France

After making a long-awaited return to racing at the Tour of Norway last week, Wout van Aert showed plenty of positive signs, coming close to victories in the bunch sprints of stages 3 and 4. Whether the Tour de France now follows however, remains unclear.

With an Olympic Games and a World Championships to follow the Tour de France, Belgian national coach, Sven Vanthourenhout has been keeping a close eye on the progress of one of his nation's star riders. The coach isn't sure that an appearance at the Tour de France is the best prospect for a van Aert still recovering from his injuries sustained at Dwars door Vlaanderen.

"From a conditioning point of view, Wout doesn't need the Tour de France to be ready for the Olympic Games," Vanthourenhout explains in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad. "But mentally, I wouldn't recommend going another two months without competition after Norway ahead of Paris. A rider needs competition. However, there are races other than the Tour in July."

Nevertheless, Vanthourenhout is positive about what he saw in the return of van Aert over the last week in Scandinavia. "Yes, I am reassured now. But I was never worried with a view to the Games. Above all, he has been able to see for himself that he is no longer giving up on cycling," he reflects of the superstars performances. "His level is obviously not yet that of the moment of his fall in Dwars door Vlaanderen but that is only normal. There is still a lot of work to do, The two months he has left until the Games should be enough to bring Wout to Paris in the best possible condition."

"Before 12 June I will submit my selection to Belgian Cycling, the BOIC will announce the selection the week before the start of the Tour," the coach adds, giving a time-frame to his decision making process ahead of the coming summer. "Of course I have a plan in my head but my choice is not final yet. I want to visit again the eight riders who are currently still part of my shortlist."

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