By Gregor Brown
Belgian Wout Van Aert and his Jumbo-Visma team are potentially seeking compensation from the Tour de France after the crash that cut his right leg and forced him to abandon this July 19.
The cyclocross and road star, who won the wind-swept stage 15 to Albi, has yet to race again and can only now walk normally. If all goes well, he will race a few cyclocross races before focusing on the spring Classics. But those barriers on the side of the road in Pau, remain an issue and at the centre of a letter sent to Tour organiser ASO.
It could have been "career ending," Van Aert said at a press conference at the Gooikse Pijl race, according to Cyclism Actu.
"The severity of the injury is a consequence of the placement of the barriers. My management group is currently studying a claim for financial compensation."
Van Aert not only was unable to help Steven Kruijswijk take on Egan Bernal (Ineos) for the 2019 Tour title, he missed the remainder of the road season and as a three-time world champion, the lucrative cyclocross races on offer this 2019/2020 season.
Van Aert and Jumbo-Visma could ask for medical costs, loss of income including the cyclocross start fees.
Vincenzo Nibali and his Bahrain-Merida team also chased ASO following a 2018 Tour incident where a fan caused him to crash on the Alpe d'Huez and fractured a vertebra. ASO insisted that the security measures adopted were "greater than those required by the UCI."
For now, Van Aert is looking long term towards the 2020 spring Classics campaign.
"I'm going to do everything to ride a few cross races," Van Aert said. "I just have to see how realistic it all is because I have to be completely there in the spring, I hope. The question is how good my shape will be. Getting in top shape is no problem, but I miss muscle mass on the right where my deep flesh wound was.
"From now on I will have a difference in muscle mass between my left and right leg. However, that is not a drama, because it can be solved with the right training.
"The real rehabilitation started two and a half weeks ago. As you can see I can walk pretty well. A remarkable improvement compared to a few weeks ago. I feel a bit more a sportsman now that I can go to the physiotherapist and do muscle-strengthening exercises."
His team dominated and won the Vuelta a España overall this month while he sat out. The Belgian national team would have likely called on him for the World Championships this Sunday in Yorkshire.
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