Wout van Aert is pushing reset after a long and strenuous season.
Van Aert and his coach Marc Lamberts have indicated that the Belgian baller will be off the bike for the best part of a month before he dives into the mud and guts of the cyclocross season.
After racing from Strade Bianche in March through last weekend’s Paris-Roubaix on the road, Lamberts indicated van Aert will take a “more-is-more” approach to his off-season.
“We’d rather a week longer than a week less. I don’t care what his shape and weight he will be afterwards,” Lamberts told Het Laatste Nieuws this week.
“Wout will not do anything for three or four weeks, which will cause him to lose all — if not much of — his current fitness. That’s OK. I don’t care what his shape and weight will be afterward. If necessary, we will rebuild from scratch.”
Van Aert ripped through the classics this winter, coming close at Strade Bianche, Tour of Flanders and Milano Sanremo as well as winning Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race.
A two-month break afforded the Belgian little breathing room before he slammed into a summer stacked with victories at the Tour de France, Olympic Games, Tour of Britain, and the road world championships.
The fatigue began to bite at Paris-Roubaix last weekend. Van Aert started the “Hell of the North” as a top favorite but was left disconsolate with his 7th place finish, blaming poor positioning and a fizzling mojo.
“I’ll be gone for a while,” van Aert said after Roubaix. “It’s been an extremely demanding season. It’s been a few years since I took a long break – I’m planning to take that break now.”
Van Aert is currently expected to kickstart his cyclocross season at the X2O Trophy round in Kortrijk on October 27, meaning he will miss the World Cup’s return to the USA and its rounds in Waterloo, Fayetteville, and Iowa in the coming weeks.
It’s currently looking uncertain as to whether van Aert will tread American soil at all this winter.
After placing second behind eternal rival Mathieu van der Poel at the world championships in Oostende this year, van Aert is still mulling the logistics of racing the 2022 worlds – also to be hosted at the Fayetteville venue in Arkansas – next January.
Lamberts indicated that he and van Aert would assess whether the arduous trip to the States would come too soon before the start of the classics season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 29.
“We have to take a good look at the picture at Jumbo-Visma, see what is possible and come to an acceptable compromise,” Lamberts said.
“If he does [race the worlds], I wouldn’t plan too much racing in the run-up. No more going from ‘cross to ‘cross to ‘cross and little rest, like previous years. That doesn’t seem appropriate to me.”
In the meantime, van Aert has been “relaxing” in his running shoes. Van Aert posted a speedy 11-kilometer run to his Strava account Tuesday, just 48 hours after plowing through the mud of Roubaix.
We thought off-season was for beer and chips?