The Jumbo-Visma star has been training in Tenerife in recent weeks as he transitions from an intensive cyclocross season back to the road, starting his season later than most rivals.
While training on the Canary island, 26-year-old Van Aert has been dominating the Strava leaderboards, most recently racking up nine crowns in a single 142km ride.
Jumbo-Visma management have acknowledged Van Aert’s achievements on Strava, but say they are not an indicator of how the Belgian will show himself on the white roads of Tuscany this weekend.
In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman said: “You have to put it into perspective. It is primarily a game. It’s just training figures. But at the same time, you don’t break records if you are not good.”
The team have been downplaying Van Aert’s chances in his first race of the season, as he goes up against the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), both of whom have already started racing with the latter winning the opening stage of the UAE Tour.
Jumbo-Visma recently said Van Aert was two kilograms over his race weight, but Zeeman said that is no longer the case.
Van Aert, defending champion in both Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, should be in better form for San Remo and will be at his peak for the cobbled Monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, according to Zeeman: “Wout also has to recover from this training camp.
“In Strade Bianche he will not be top yet, also because he needs some competitions and race rhythm to add those last percentages. It will be different in Milan-San Remo and he will be completely ready for the Flemish Classics. ”
Van Aert has been in Tenerife since February 9, training on the slopes of the famous Teide climb with team-mates Mike Teunissen (who is out after suffering a nasty crash), Edoardo Affini and others.
He has racked up a huge 2,443km in the last three weeks and has topped the leaderboard on 14 different Strava segments during his time on the island.
On Saturday (February 27), Van Aert racked up nine crowns in a single ride during a 142km trek around the north-western edge of Tenerife.
Most of the segments were around 3-4km in length, with Van Aert putting out 10-12 minute efforts on some steep 10 and 11 per cent gradients.