Belgian cyclist Wout van Aert is expected to be fit for the UEC Road European Championships after a bout of illness.
According to his team Jumbo-Visma, the 29-year-old was “not completely fit” to compete in the Super 8 Classic over the weekend.
Van Aert is scheduled to race in Wednesday’s time trial and the road race on Friday.
“Wout stayed off the bike for a day or two,” Vanthourenhout explained. “These were not crucial training days but, of course, illness is never the ideal scenario. Recovery always uses up energy.”
“I expect Wout to be fit. I know he was able to do what he had to in terms of training for the road race and time trial.”
Vanthourenhout admitted that Van Aert would not have the same preparation as he did going into last month’s UCI Road World Championships in Glasgow, where he placed second in the road race and fifth in the time trial.
But Van Aert’s recent performances – – have left Vanthourenhout confident.
“He hasn’t had the same intense preparation as for the World Championships, but he should certainly be competitive,” the coach and former professional cyclist said. “I don’t want to be negative – I look at the Tour of Britain where he was in good shape and mentally fresh.”
Van Aert and Arnaud De Lie will be co-leaders for the Belgian team in the 200km road race, with Jasper De Buyst, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert, Jasper Stuyven, Edward Theuns, and Florian Vermeersch also starting.
In the absence of reigning European road race champion Fabio Jakobsen, Van Aert is among the favourites, alongside Olav Kooj of the Netherlands, Arnaud Demare of France, Denmark’s Mads Pedersen and Italy’s Filippo Ganna.
“We explored the run-in to the local laps,” Vanthourenhout said. “We’re going to have a nervous and chaotic race where having two leaders only adds value. We’ll see a very thinned-out group and I don’t expect a sprint of more than 10 or 15. Hopefully, there will be two of us there.
“A choice will always be made which can’t be estimated in advance. I have a clear idea about where the cards lie at the moment, but the race can always decide differently.
“We’ll make a good agreement between two honest guys who know that they will often ride championships together in future.”
Van Aert is also considered a favourite in the 29.5 km time trial, a flat course around the city of Emmen.
His rivals include Swiss defending champion Stefan Bissegger and Dutch rider Stefan Kung, who is looking for a third European title. Britain’s Joshua Tarling could also be a contender, having clinched a bronze medal in the time trial at the Road World Championships last month.
Van Aert has enjoyed a successful season, achieving top-five placings at prestigious races such Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and will be hoping to add to this with a European title.
The three-time cyclo-cross world champion will then be heading to Italy in October for the Coppa Bernocchi, Gran Piemonte, and the Gravel World Championships.
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