Wout van Aert and teammates explore the course of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Today, a ‘team’ from Jumbo-Visma led by Wout van Aert through the Flemish Ardennes on the course of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Whether Van Aert will defend his title in the Flemish opening classic on February 25 of next year is not yet a foregone conclusion.

Guy Van Den Langenbergh / Peter Malaise

Eleven riders gathered for a joint training tour through the Flemish Ardennes. In addition, one newcomer – Dylan van Baarle – and three compatriots: Tosh van der Sande, Tiesj Benoot and of course Wout van Aert. “Of the Belgians, only Nathan Van Hooydonck was missing”, said sports director Grisha Niermann. “He is currently insufficiently fit, but will of course remain part of our classic squad.”

The joint training ride served several purposes. “At first we wanted to bring the group together, as a kind of team building,” says Niermann. “At the same time, this is the ideal time to test the material. And if you have to do that anyway, you can just as well combine it with a reconnaissance of a course. Not all riders live in the area.”

The choice fell on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Whether much has changed? Niermann: “The Molenberg is always a key moment and it won’t be there soon. Well, such a training mainly serves to refresh the knowledge. No, from the presence of Wout you cannot conclude whether or not he will be at the start. We are still drawing up the programs, which will be announced on December 22.”

Niermann spoke of a successful day. “Also because we were very lucky with the weather. Could have been a few degrees warmer, but it stayed dry all day while rain was predicted. Ideal weather for a training ride.”

The Jumbo-Visma riders on the Leberg © Peter Malaise

There was also a lot of expansion on the Haaghoek. © Peter Malaise

Wout van Aert mouses from below on the Valkenberg. © Peter Malaise

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