"We would be stupid if we didn't use our strengths together" - Van Aert adamant of working with Evenepoel towards Worlds gold medal
Wout van Aert will ride in Wollongong this Sunday as one of the big favourites for the World title, and he will have a strong Belgian lineup besides him. He will once again be one of the riders to watch, as he attempts once again to try and finally win the World Championships.
"It was hard work in Canada, I was really tired. But I feel ready for this World Championships, I have built up to this. It is therefore my biggest goal for the rest of the season," van Aert said in a press conference this Thursday. As the riders had the chance to ride on closed roads in the circuit today, there was also a lot of media out in Wollongong, and the city was bursting with activity including press conferences. Van Aert said alongside Remco Evenepoel, and the two seemed to have the necessary chemistry to work together towards a win.
Preliminary startlist men's Elite World Championships with Evenepoel, Pogacar, van Aert, van der Poel, Alaphilippe and Matthews
"We have a strong team. And a very good co-leader, everyone has seen that in the Vuelta," he said of the Quick-Step rider and temporary teammate. "I am looking forward to it. We have to take advantage of it. Not many countries will have two more riders in the final. We have to keep both options open. Everyone thinks I will wait for my sprint, but I could also just attack. But I want to show myself as late as possible."
Having the sprint as his advantage, van Aert will benefit from a conservative race. Having the likes of Remco Evenepoel and Jasper Stuyven will allow Belgium to both be able to have cards to play and prevent the Jumbo-Visma rider from working, or to close down moves to favour a small group sprint. Van Aert finished fourth and second in the recent GP de Montréal, but has most importantly shown the climbing legs necessary to fight for the win in Australia.
Cycling Wollongong World Championships Cycling Schedule | Date and finish times for all races
"It's exactly as if we have to make our vows, like at a wedding. Yes, I want to," Van Aert confirmed when it comes to working together with Evenepoel towards a gold medal, instead of fueling any possible internal dispute. "We would be stupid if we didn't use our strengths together, because then we have a better chance of winning."
Whilst Belgium will have a strong core, there will equally be other teams such as France, Italy and the Netherlands who should try to take advantage of their depth.