Jumbo-Visma have asked Wout van Aert not to share his training data on Strava ahead of Paris-Roubaix at the weekend, with the Belgian returning to training after testing positive for Covid-19 on March 31.
General manager Richard Plugge clarified this decision, telling Het Laatste Neiuws (opens in new tab): “We want to prevent speculation."
Plugge said the decision on whether Van Aert will race the Monument depends on the extensive testing he will undergo in the coming days, which will determine his race fitness and capabilities. While he understands asking Van Aert not to share his training data on Strava makes everyone - fans and media alike - extra curious, Plugge also doesn't want to place any extra pressure on Van Aert to return at Paris-Roubaix.
The Belgian missed the opportunity to defend his Amstel Gold Race title yesterday (Sunday), and would love to return on the cobbles of northern France. In the past week, doctors and pundits have both weighed into the debate on whether the Jumbo-Visma rider should compete in the race.
However, Plugge declined to comment on his return date, citing the effects Covid-19 can have on someone's health while addressing outside opinions.
"We have made a very clear agreement with our medical management that we are more cautious than cautious. Also because we do not know the effects of Covid in the longer term. Your heart, your muscle metabolism, your lungs: it can all be affected.
“I can't say anything sensible about it [stating Van Aert's schedule]. Wout is training and now we have to see how he develops. I read online that someone said he has a fifty-fifty chance. Well, it is, either he drives or he doesn't."
For now, Jumbo-Visma are studying the training Van Aert is completing and the subsequent rest he requires. Ensuring he is in a top physical condition is more important from the team's perspective than potentially challenging for the top step of the Paris-Roubaix podium, thus making his involvement in the race currently up in the air.
"We follow his training closely," Plugge said. "Before we decide, we will do extensive testing: to see if everything is okay with his heart and such. We look at it day by day. But one thing is certain: we are not taking any risks with the health of our riders.”
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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