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Wout van Aert hasn’t had his fill of winning just yet.
“I have a lot of confidence and peace of mind after the Strade, but my hunger has not been satisfied yet,” van Aert said Friday.
Having taken breakaway success on the gravel-climbs of Tuscany, Jumbo-Visma’s multi-discipline star illustrated he’s on a rich vein of form Wednesday, placing third in the bunch kick behind sprint specialists Arnaud Démare and Caleb Ewan at Milano-Torino.
Van Aert is ready for anything that the ever-unpredictable Milano-Sanremo has to throw at him Saturday. With the race typically won from either a punch clear over the final climb of the Poggio, or in the last-gasp sprint of the Via Roma, the 25-year-old has proven to himself – and his opponents – that he can win in almost any situation.
“That is the difference with last year, when I thought about winning when I came up with the best on the Poggio; I thought I’d have to attack there,” van Aert said of his sixth place in Sanremo in 2019. “I had too little confidence in my sprint. I would do that differently now. There are many scenarios that suit me.
“Milano-Torino was a good race to test my legs in the sprint and to get used to the tension and positioning because that is also important in Sanremo,” he continued. “I don’t need to be afraid in the sprint, especially after a tough race.”
Van Aert will face a stiff crowd of opponents Saturday, including French fastman Démare. Having seen what the Belgian can do during their sprint showdown in Turin on Wednesday, Démare knows who he would put his betting money on for a win on the Via Roma.
“Van Aert can win alone and he can sprint, so he will be the favorite, that’s clear,” Démare said.
His opponents know it, and it seems he knows it, too. Van Aert will be the man to watch at La Classicissima this weekend.