Wout van Aert has challenged Chris Froome's assertion that time trials should be raced on road bikes to improve safety, with the Belgian claiming the idea is "bulls***".
Froome - who was hospitalised in June 2019 after a high speed crash into a wall while on a reconnaissance of the fourth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné - questioned the safety of time trial bikes in a YouTube video last week, following Egan Bernal's serious training crash with a bus at the end of January.
The Colombian suffered 20 broken bones and required extensive surgery, with Froome suggesting using road bikes for time trials would improve safety because riders wouldn't have to train with TT bikes on unsuitable roads.
However, Van Aert has completely dismissed Froome's ideas. When asked during an interview with Het Nieuwsblad about what he thought of Froome's suggestion, the Belgian expressed his feelings in no uncertain terms.
“Very simple: bulls***," Van Aert said.
"You can say: I no longer train with a time trial bike on the public road, because that is dangerous. That's right, I can speak for myself about that. But as a rider you also have to take care of your own safety. That's not to say it's Bernal's own fault for riding into a bus. That's an extreme accident, but I think it's a bit weird to ban the time trial bike because of that."
Despite falling heavily on his time trial bike at the 2019 Tour de France and ending his season prematurely, Van Aert suggests that the level of research into TT projects enhances the sport and makes it more exciting.
"Time trial is super interesting," he adds. "It is the only discipline in cycling where you have a bit of the Formula 1 feeling and can really come up with innovation. Where it's not just steps. Sometimes the price can be more than that.”
Van Aert didn't race the season-opening Classic last year, and in his three previous attempts he hasn't managed a top-ten finish yet. He did manage to win Gent–Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race in 2021 though, and now the Belgian has his sights set on bigger goals.
"This year I will ride Gent-Wevelgem and the Amstel [Gold Race] again, but I have already won them. So I can work all the way towards the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. That is the next step I want to take, a logical continuation of my career. I am ready to win those kinds of races.”
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