The early bird catches the worm as they say, and when it comes to the Tour of Flanders Wout van Aert is taking no chances – he has already been seen out and about scouting next year's race. His Strava account shows he put in a 167km (102-mile) stint on Wednesday with other members of the Jumbo-Visma team including fellow Classics hopefuls Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot and new team member Matteo Jorgensen, still wearing his Movistar kit from this season.
Van Aert, it appears, went the extra mile, clocking an extra 25 or so kilometres more than his team-mates as they explored famous bergs including the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg and the Koppenberg.
According to Van Aert's Strava activity, which was called 'Additonal training as the weather is so good' (perhaps it translates better in Flemish), the 29-year-old took in 1,774 metres of vertical ascent at an average of 33.2kph (20.6mph).
“This is the third year that we have done this,” team leader Maarten Wynant told Het Nieuwsblad. “We always have about two days in November. Friday is our team day in the Service Course. There we look back on the past year with staff and riders, welcome the newcomers and say goodbye to the departures in style. Because everyone comes here for that, we take the opportunity to refresh their memory in a playful way.”
Surely Van Aert and Benoot know these roads like the backs of their hands, you might reasonably point out. And you'd be right, but this mini training camp was more than a simple recce of the roads of De Ronde, Wynants explained. It was also about getting together with new team-mates, including Matteo Jorgensen and Dutch neo-pro Loe Van Belle.
The climbs were taken at race pace, and reps from SRAM were also in tow, observing what amounted to field testing of its components.
"This is a fun moment with the team" and a "team building" exercise, Wynants said. It even included a quiz about each other, set up by the staff and which was won by Tim Van Dijke.
"As a trophy he was allowed to ride in the lead all day,” joked Wynants.
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