Wout van Aert cyclocross season debut in doubt after he gets ill

Van Aert given Kristallen Fiets award for best Belgian rider for second year running. He remains coy on start at CX world championships in Arkansas.

Photo: Jos Kafoe/BSR Agency/Getty Images

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Wout van Aert’s cyclocross season debut is in doubt.

The Belgian rider is scheduled to start his CX season this weekend at the Superprestige race in Boom, alongside fellow multi-discipline star Tom Pidcock, but has picked up a cold in recent days.

Speaking over video link at the Kristallen Fiets (Crystal Bike) awards for the best Belgian rider, Van Aert said he had been training well and hoped his illness wouldn’t prevent him from starting on Saturday.

“I hope this won’t get in the way of my debut,” he said Wednesday. “I still have a few days left to recover and regain freshness. I assume it will be fine by Saturday.

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“Over the past few weeks, my condition has gotten better and the desire to cross has only increased. But when I see the other guys so busy, I expect a fierce battle. Let me try to mix myself in there first. It will be a difficult adjustment, especially on a technical level. But when I see how much rain has fallen from the sky in recent days and may still fall, I fear that we won’t get many dry races this winter. That works in my favor in principle.”

Van Aert was named as the best male Belgian rider of the year, with Lotte Kopecky the best female, at the awards, which are run by Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. Though van Aert was unable to collect the award himself, as he chose to stay at home due to his illness, his teammate Primož Roglič collected it on his behalf.

Despite choosing to miss the awards ceremony in person, Van Aert said he believed his cold was down to training in the winter weather and that he hadn’t picked up COVID-19. He said that he had taken a self-administered COVID test that had come back negative.

“I don’t think I should look any further than the rain and cold of the past few days. I felt that I had not recovered enough from the bad weather training,” he said.

Van Aert coy on CX worlds start

Van Aert announced his cyclocross calendar last month with 12 races packed into four weeks, including four World Cups, three Superprestige races, and the Belgian nationals.

His confirmed calendar does not have the world championships in Arkansas yet, and he remained coy on any potential start when he was pushed on it by the hosts. Two of his big rivals, Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel have already confirmed their intentions to race the event in the U.S.

“We will see, I will first start with the races that are on my schedule and when I see the other guys busy, it is super tough at the moment, super-tough courses and always a fierce battle for victory.”

As well as his cyclocross plans, van Aert spoke briefly on his 2021 road season, which helped him win the Kristallen Fiets for the second time, and his plans for next year’s road campaign.

“Taking that trophy home, especially if you look at the honors list and know what kind of cycling country we are, that is very special,” van Aert said. “My best victory was that stage win in the Tour over the Mont Ventoux. That’s where I surprised myself the most. I look back on that with the greatest pleasure.

“Next year I will first try to get close to last season. It would be nice to win a monument next year. I missed that this year and I would give a lot for that. That is certainly a goal for next year. The Tour is another goal.”

He was asked about going for green at the Tour de France as Roglič went for yellow, but he didn’t give too much away.

“That would be very nice, I don’t even dare to say that,” he said.

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