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Wout van Aert already training on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles

Jack Elton-Walters
27 Nov 2019

Wout van Aert and his Jumbo-Visma teammates are looking ahead to the best race of the year, Paris-Roubaix

For many, the most wonderful time of the year is in full swing already as it's under a month from Christmas Day and shops have been playing Band Aid for six weeks at least. However, for cycling fans the actual most wonderful time of the year is a period of around two months from the tail end of winter into the (sometimes) sunnier days of the spring.

Taking on the cobbles and bergs of Flanders and Northern France, with trips into Italy and even the Netherlands, the Spring Classics are the best time of the year for cycling fans. Grand Tours are, well, grand but there's something to be said for watching riders racing across wet cobbles on a truly Flandrian day of rain and wind somewhere in the wider Fremish region.

Looking ahead to Paris-Roubaix, which next year takes place on Easter Sunday (12th April 2020), Wout van Aert and his Jumbo-Visma teammates have been out riding the cobbles. Van Aert hasn't raced since a crash at the Tour de France saw him hospitalised with a severe gash to his leg.

Even so, if he's able to take on the Carrefour de l'Arbre on a wet day in November then the signs for his recovery are good.

Bad luck and youthful inexperience cost the Belgian a high-placed finished at this year's event when repeated chases after crashes and mechanicals saw him run out of beans in the closing kilometres.

However, after his first year in the WorldTour and no diminishing of his raw natural talent, Van Aert should be much better placed to contest the podium next April. It's surely a matter of when he wins rather than if, unless Mathieu van der Poel pushes him into second place time and again, as has been the case for the pair for several seasons of cyclocross.

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