The Jumbo-Visma rider was forced to miss the Tour of Flanders after testing positive for Covid, and while he has returned to training, it is not clear if he will ride the 'Hell of the North' this year.
As a result of missing Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race, two of his key targets of the year, Van Aert now wants to ride Liège for the first time, according to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
The fourth Monument of the year usually suits more climbing-focused riders, but Van Aert can climb, as he proved by winning the Mont Ventoux stage at the Tour de France last year.
The Belgian champion has also lasted until the final of other hilly one-day races, like the Olympic Games road race last year, and the World Championships in 2020. If Julian Alaphilippe can be considered a favourite for Liège, then it is possible Van Aert can challenge too.
He has never raced it before, usually ending his Classics campaign after the Amstel Gold Race; he has never raced Flèche Wallonne either, the other Walloon Classic.
Also on the startlist for Liège for Jumbo are Primož Roglič, Jonas Vingegaard and Tiesj Benoot, so Van Aert would not be forced to carry the team on his own. Roglič won the race in 2020, and Benoot has twice finished in the top ten in the Ardennes race.
On Monday it was revealed that Van Aert has been asked not to share his training data on Strava ahead of the weekend, in order to prevent speculation.
General manager Richard Plugge clarified this decision, telling Het Laatste Neiuws: “We want to prevent speculation."
Plugge said the decision on whether Van Aert will race Paris-Roubaix depends on the extensive testing he will undergo in the coming days, which will determine his race fitness and capabilities. While he understands asking Van Aert not to share his training data on Strava makes everyone - fans and media alike - extra curious, Plugge also doesn't want to place any extra pressure on Van Aert to return at Paris-Roubaix.
We will have to wait and see which race the Belgian appears at next.
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