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Wout van Aert has stolen a Strava KOM from Chris Froome

Joe Robinson
27 Feb 2020

Belgian will return to the road at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and looks in fine form

How is Wout van Aert's form as he returns from a seven-month injury layoff at the Spring Classics opening weekend, you ask? Well, if his current performances on Stava are anything to go by, he could be in the hunt for an instant return to winning ways or at least a good crack at the business end of the race. 

The Belgian triple cyclocross World Champion has been on a training camp with Jumbo-Visma teammates on the volcanic island of Tenerife where, on a training ride, Van Aert nabbed a Strava KOM off seven-time Grand Tour champion Chris Froome.

Making it even more interesting is that Van Aert's steal came on an uphill segment, terrain you would probably expect Froome to thrive on more.

Van Aert rode the Guia de Isora climb in a time of 7 minutes 51 seconds, seeing him average a mighty 29.5kmh for 3.86km on the 4% average gradient, an improvement of four seconds on Froome who set his time last May. 

It also saw him better fellow pro riders Dylan van Baarle, Michal Kwiatkowski, Joe Dombrowski and Jack Haig. Worth noting is that Van Aert's and Froome's efforts also came during likewise rides with Van Aert riding 152km to Froome's 178km.

While one Strava KOM cannot be taken as proof that Van Aert is in top form for Omloop Het Nieuwsbald on Saturday, it can indicate he has fully recovered from a major injury.

The 25-year-old has yet to race on the road since a terrible crash on Stage 13's individual time-trial forced him to abandon the Tour de France with abrasions and cuts to his leg muscles.

The resulting injuries forced Van Aert into two bouts of surgery and an extended period away from the bike.

Van Aert then returned to cyclocross racing in December at the DVV Verzekeringen before taking fifth at the World Championships earlier this month.

Jumbo-Visma took encouragement from Van Aert's progress and decided to bring him into their line up for the opening week of the Spring Classics at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne before travelling to Strade Bianche a week later.