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Wout van Aert after Norway: ‘The confidence has grown’

The Belgian is feeling better every day of his comeback, even taking third on final stage

Wout van Aert after Norway: ‘The confidence has grown’

Two months after his brutal crash in Dwars door Vlaanderen, Van Aert is finally feeling good again. He recently finished the Tour of Norway, his first race since the tough day in Belgium.

“Plus, the confidence has grown,” the Visma-Lease a Bike rider said, after finishing his stint in Scandinavia. And despite Van Aert beginning the Tour of Norway without high expectations of results he came close to a victory twice.

After an over eight-week hiatus, rode the Tour of Norway from May 23 to 26. The incident left him with fractures in his collarbone, sternum, and seven ribs. Consequently, the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne champion had to withdraw from all the Spring Classics and miss out on his debut at the Giro d’Italia. He then underwent an extensive rehabilitation period.

“It hasn’t always been easy sitting on the sidelines, but fortunately, I can now look ahead again”, Van Aert said. “I’m not in the best shape; it’s a test. But I’m looking forward to it.”

Before the race, he said he didn’t expect much and that his form was not quite there yet .“I am looking forward to pinning on a race number again. I have been able to train more and more in recent weeks, but it is still different from racing,” he explained to Het Laatste Nieuws. “So, my main goal is to test myself and see how I do in a race. Without any expectations.”

Visma – LAB directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman said earlier that the race is a good start for his star rider, but he knows it’s just the beginning of his entry back into the pro peloton.

“It’s great to have Wout back in the team after his crash. He starts without any pressure to perform. This is a good moment for him to test himself in competition again. We don’t know yet what the rest of his race schedule will look like. We will see in the coming weeks,” Zeeman said.

But he definitely delivered, with a fourth on Saturday and a third on Sunday.

“There is still a difference between having the right ambitions and not putting in the effort. I wanted to throw myself into it and am happy that it worked out in the last two days,” he said.

The two results have helped Van Aert regain some confidence and he says he’s excited for his continued comeback.

“A lot of uncertainty has been eliminated. I felt myself getting better and that was what I hoped for. The confidence has grown. The most important thing is that I didn’t have any pain,” He said. “It’s been a positive week and definitely one we will evaluate to see what comes next. But I’m not going to do that in front of the camera.”

Van Aert could very well have won the final stage.

“I really believed in myself today, but I was boxed in 300 from the finish. That meant I couldn’t sprint at full speed,” he said. “But that was my own fault.”

The Belgian underscored the most important aspect of the race was that he is finally able to ride pain-free.

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