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Jumbo-Visma posted on social media Thursday that the Belgian megastar is sick and that his participation for Sunday’s monument is uncertain.
“Wout van Aert is not feeling well, so he will not join the Tour of Flanders recon. His participation in the Tour of Flanders is unlikely,” read the short note.
Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann was not optimistic about Sunday after van Aert could not train Thursday.
“If we only miss him today for the recon ride, it wouldn’t be too bad. We have to admit now there is a chance he will miss the race,” he said. “If he cannot race, we have to make a new plan. It would be a very, very big setback. We cannot replace him, of course, but on the other hand, we have two guys in great form and a team to back them. If that’s the case, we would still start the race with the goal of winning.
“He still might race, but we will know by tomorrow about what the situation is,” he said.
If van Aert cannot race, Jumbo-Visma still would bring a powerful squad, with Tiesj Benoot and Christophe Laporte as candidates for victory. Benoot was second Wednesday at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Laporte was second at Gent-Wevelgem.
Sickness has ravaged the pro peloton in recent weeks as a surge in COVID cases and then an outbreak of flu saw team rosters decimated through the spring calendar.
Van Aert is at the top of many favorites lists for Sunday’s De Ronde after winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February and the E3 Saxo Bank Classic earlier this month.
Jumbo-Visma is currently slated to send a stacked squad to support van Aert against the likes of Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogačar, Tom Pidcock, and Kasper Asgreen in Flanders.
Quinn Simmons will not race Tour of Flanders
Quinn Simmons is the latest victim in a wave of illnesses that is sweeping the peloton.
The U.S. rider on Trek-Segafredo was DNF in his last three starts, and said at the start of Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen that if things did not go well, he would reconsider his schedule.
Officials confirmed to VeloNews that Simmons will not start Sunday.
Simmons came in hot into 2022, with strong rides at both Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, where he won the best climber’s jersey.
He came down with a cold in the aftermath of the Italian stage race, and will take a short break to try to regroup for Amstel Gold Race and Paris-Roubaix, the next two major races on his tentative schedule.
Wout van Aert is not feeling well, so he will not join the Tour of Flanders recon. His participation in the Tour of Flanders is unlikely. pic.twitter.com/dxsZvPrWSh
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) March 31, 2022