First Tour week seems ideal for a yellow Wout van Aert, but...

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The Tour de France 2022 was presented on Thursday afternoon. An edition with two time trials, three mountain ranges, the chance of fan stages and a cobblestone stage. The first week seems like a perfect fit for Wout van Aert, team boss Richard Plugge (Jumbo-Visma) also knows.

Vincent Van Genechten, Jan-Pieter De Vlieger

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“It’s all sorts of things,” said the Dutchman. “It’s going to be fan riding, it’s going to be cobblestones and a few nice uphill finishes. And there are quite good kilometers of time trials. Certainly the first one, that could be a great chance (on yellow, ed.). For our Danish class act (Jonas Vingegaard, ed.), but we also have a Belgian (Wout van Aert, ed.) and a Slovenian (Primoz Roglic, ed.). We still have to see who we’re going to draft, but they could do it there. Tom Dumoulin as well. I also really like that the Galibier is in it twice during such a classic mountain stage and an arrival at Alpe D’Huez. There are great opportunities there. We hope for a baking oven then.”

Van Aert will undoubtedly enjoy the cobblestone stage in the Tour at the moment, but Plugge himself is not such a fan. “I’d rather not have them in a big round,” it sounds. “With the women, we saw during Paris-Roubaix that it is a work of specialists. With the men, only specialists drive there. But a cyclist has to be at home in everything, including riding over cobblestones. Our men can do that, I think. But hey, gravel doesn’t work for me either. Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali would be happy with asphalt. Now we have the opportunity and we go to the gravel. That’s always a lottery, who’s going to have a flat tire?”

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Yet. The first week in windy Denmark with a time trial, a cobblestone stage and then the start of a stage in Binche. Ideal for the Belgian champion?

“It looks nice, with a chance of fans too. We are good at that. Indeed, Wout of course has many opportunities here. There are more, but he has a lot of chance. We have to come to the Tour with a strong team to put him in a good position. Normally he is there anyway. We are now making plans, but Wout is part of our strongest team. But it’s not about the beginning either, it’s about the last stage. The end. Ultimately, it’s about the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysées and we have to work out the best battle plan for that.”

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