Wout van Aert is one of the single best riders in the peloton when it comes to the cobbled classics, however most of his success has came away from them as tactics often work against him due to his sprinting abilities. In 2023 the Jumbo-Visma rider is seeking a monument win in the coming spring.
In a recent press conference, van Aert said: "Towards the classics, I already have in mind how I will approach it. Obviously the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are the big goals of the spring. I want to keep chasing a victory in those two monuments. But everything has to go well on such a day."
The Dutch team recently rode together in Belgium doing a recon of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a race he himself won last year with a solo attack towards the end. He won the E3 Saxo Bank Classic with a duo attack together with Christophe Laporte, with the rest of the field standing no chance. As Tiesj Benoot also scored hefty results, Jumbo and van Aert were prime favourites for the Tour des Flandres, but days before the race he tested positive for Covid-19.
"Last year I was in good shape at the right time, but then I got infected with the corona virus. Maybe next year I will collect less top 10 places, but I will catch that big fish," he continued. He managed to return to race Paris-Roubaix where he finished second, but it has likely still felt like a disappointing campaign. He's looking to improve on it in 2023.
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Part of Jumbo's tactics will rely on new signing, Paris-Roubaix winner and Tour des Flandres runner-up Dylan van Baarle. “A team can never be too strong. I am really looking forward to racing together with Van Baarle. I think we are very complementary," van Aert commented, on an addition that is set to make Jumbo an even stronger classics team.
He assured however that both will be working for the collective, and that the addition of van Baarle will only benefit the team. “The race situation will determine that. It's just important that someone from our team wins. That may sound a little corny, but that's just the way it is," he said.
Before that however, van Aert will aim for the cyclocross World Championships in early February. He's beginning his campaign soon in the Antwerp World Cup, and looks to build towards Hoogerheide: "I think there has never been so much to do about programs of riders in the field (cyclocross, ed.) and on the road. But the newspapers are full of it and the race is alive."
After, he will recover and travel to Mount Teide in the Canary Islands for an altitude camp. He's said to be relatively replicating his 2021 schedule, likely to make his debut at Strade Bianche, and to use Tirreno-Adriatico as his main racing block towards the classics. It is not decided yet which schedule he'll have from there on, but he hints at a Tour-Worlds combo in July and August - instead of the Giro d'Italia which has occasionally been suggested.
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“The Tour and then the World Championships is certainly a route that is possible. The World Championships will be two weeks after the Tour next year, so that is a difficult combination. But that has already proven successful," he concluded.