Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has had a very impressive season up to now, but he hasn't managed to convert all of his performances into wins. His trainer, Marc Lamberts, believes that Tirreno-Adriatico was the reason that Van Aert didn't have the expected form in the Classics.
This isn't to say that he is out of form, he managed a win at Ghent-Wevelgem and two stages at Tirreno plus he was in the top 11 of every other race he appeared in, including a podium at the first Monument of the year, Milan-San Remo.
Lamberts told Het Nieuwsblad: "Wout was the third-best in the race [Tour of Flanders] and that is suddenly no longer enough. I thought Wout was very good, but he hit his limits.
"It has to stop somewhere. It was a tough race. Moreover, Van der Poel also hit his limit, only 20 kilometres later than Wout.
"Physiology is not an exact science. I still support the trajectory we have outlined. With the data I had after the cyclocross World Championships, I would now do exactly the same again: three weeks of altitude training in February."
The team opted for Van Aert to go to Tirreno-Adriatico instead of Paris-Nice due to the stages generally suiting his attributes. That certainly seemed to be the case as he finished inside the top 10 of all but one of the stages. The race was extremely difficult however, with very hard racing especially on stage five.
Lamberts continued: "Tirreno-Adriatico was so tough, partly due to the weather conditions, that you could not label it as a build-up week. If we had known it was this tough, he might have been better to ride Paris-Nice ."
Lamberts, however, still thought that Van Aert reached his best level of the year so far at the Tour of Flanders, but it just wasn't quite enough on the day.
Van Aert's next races are at Brabantse Pijl before heading to the Ardennes Classics and onto Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. He also has the Tour of Britain on his provisional list of races later in the year.
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