"We'll just stick to our plan and then we hope that it will pay off" - Wout van Aert does not regret skipping next weeks of racing, to favour monuments

Wout van Aert has had an early start to the season in Spain, tested his form and won for the first time at the Volta ao Algarve; and has now thrived in the Opening Weekend by winning Kuurne - Bruxelles - Kuurne. The Belgian rider is sticking to his initial plan to take on altitude training now before the next block of cobbled classics.

“It is a very nice start like last year, where we also got off to a great start. At the end you naturally feel some pressure to finish it. That makes me proud that it was actually successful," van Aert told Wielerflits. "I am very happy to see that everyone is reaching a good level. That gives confidence for the coming weeks. I'm just very happy with this victory. It's a nice victory. It also looks good on my record. And I am indeed already looking further ahead to try to get another 1% better.”

Van Aert was third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but even so, he played a key role for the team's victory all day long. He is not yet in peak form, but had enough in the tank to be among the best in both races and conquer Kuurne on his debut in the classic. “I think I can get even better. But that is always relative and difficult to express," he says.

"The training approach is designed in such a way that we can improve just a little bit. We'll see if it pays off. I will certainly be held accountable for it too. But we believe in it. The Giro is also coming after the spring. So we'll just stick to our plan and then we hope that it will pay off.” It is an ambitious plan, as the Team Visma | Lease a Bike rider has a clear goal in mind and is willing to let go of other big races.

Van Aert will however miss out on Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo, two races where he's thrived in the past. This is for the ultimate goal of arriving to Flanders and Roubaix in the best form possible. He's asked if he will miss those two races:

"Yes and no. When I look at the race later, it will certainly hurt, that's saying a lot. But I will automatically think 'maybe this or maybe that'. But I also have the experience that training always makes me better. Not many races per se. I want to try this new approach.”

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