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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s outspoken team boss used his Het Nieuwsblad column this weekend to question Van Aert’s recent knee knock and decision to sidestep the Belgian nationals Sunday.
“A major missing name Sunday is Wout van Aert, who bumped his knee against his handlebars on training camp in Tignes,” Lefevere typed. “How much bad luck can you have?”
“I’m not going to say it didn’t happen, but if Jumbo-Visma prefers to keep its leaders for the Tour away from the championships, say so clearly. Or is it a coincidence that Primož Roglič is not participating in Slovenia either?”
None of Jumbo-Visma’s Tour de France team will appear at their respective nationals this weekend.
Van Aert was slated to defend his Belgian road race title at the 2022 race in Middelkerke but made the call to stay on the sidelines and nurse his knee ahead of Friday’s Grand Départ.
Jumbo-Visma’s GC captains Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard were never known to be planning to ride in the Slovenian or Danish races.
Other yellow jersey contenders including Tadej Pogačar, David Gaudu, and Thibaut Pinot won’t be competing for national jerseys in the crucial week before the Tour rolls out Friday.
Meanwhile, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s likely Tour racers Julian Alaphilippe, Fabio Jakobsen, Michael Mørkøv, Remí Cavagna, and Davide Ballerini raced or will race at their home championships this weekend.
Preparing for Sunday’s Nationals.
We’ll be in action in seven different countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Switzerland.
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) June 25, 2022
Lefevere was able to muster a brighter note to end his column Saturday.
“To end positively, despite the course, despite the skewed balance of power and despite Van Aert not starting, we will still see a good race and get a deserved winner,” he wrote of the Belgian nationals.
Quick-Step is sending 11 riders to the Middelkerke road race Sunday.
“In the time of Ludovic Capelle you still had small champions, today not anymore,” Levfevere wrote. “Nobody should call Dries de Bondt that [the 2020 Belgian champ that won in the absence of Van Aert – ed], because that boy has shown enough that he can ride a bicycle.
“Whoever wins on Sunday can call himself Belgian champion forever, and should never be ashamed of that.”