Wout van Aert hopes to follow in Zdenek Stybar's footsteps by turning from cyclocross world champion into a Classics contender, but not for a few years yet
The 21-year-old Belgian, who rode to victory in January’s World Championships in Zolder, is enamoured by the technical aspects of the famous French race where cyclocross racers have excelled in recent years.
But van Aert is keen to cement his place as the best off-road rider in the world before turning his attentions to the road Classics later in his career.
“I think [Paris-Roubaix] is a course that appeals to every cyclist. It is one of the few road races where a lot of technique is necessary, particularly when it rains,” Van Aert told Sporza.
“I would like to ride it, even if only to say that I’ve ridden it. I have many years ahead of me and for now, it is still not on the schedule, but you never know what else might happen.”
Van Aert only has to look as far as Zdenek Stybar for inspiration, with the Etixx-Quick Step rider combining a successful cyclocross career with one on the road for several years.
The Czech rider won three Cyclocross World Championships between 2010 and 2014 and has claimed top-10 placings at Paris-Roubaix in each of the last three years, including second in 2015.
After missing the Cyclocross World Championships with injury in 2015, Stybar went on to record his most successful year on the road to date, winning Strade Bianche and a stage at the Tour de France, as well as second at Paris-Roubaix and E3 Harelbeke and ninth at the Tour of Flanders.