Wout van Aert moots building gravel world championships into 2023 programme

Belgian rider says gravel racing has a ‘great future’ as he considers worlds participation next year

Wout van Aert
Van Aert celebrates a sensational stage victory at the Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Belgian superstar Wout van Aert is considering riding the UCI gravel world championships in 2023. 

The Jumbo-Visma talisman has said that he sees the competition having a great future after a successful first edition in October, which was won by fellow Belgian Gianni Vermeesch of Alpecin-Deceuninck

Italian rider and Peter Sagan wingman, Daniel Oss took second with Mathieu van der Poel rounding out the podium. Sagan also rode the gravel worlds himself in order to “give back to the people”.  

In conversation with WielerFlits (opens in new tab), Van Aert explained that seeing the race won by Vermeesch on television whet his appetite for a future participation. 

“I watched the last edition on television and thought it was nice to see,” Van Aert said. “I was positively surprised at how much attention this world championship received. I think the world championship on gravel has a great future.” 

With the competition coming very late in the season, Van Aert hinted that riding the competition could be a stress-free way to end his 2023 season. 

“The gravel world championships is of course organised quite late in the road season. On the other hand, I think this title fight is less stressful than other big goals in the year,” he said. 

“It’s a beautiful sport,” Van Aert added. 

After a successful first edition, the second edition of the gravel world championships will be held in Italy again in 2023 before the competition moves to Van Aert’s home roads in Belgium for 2024. 

The Belgium course will start in Halle before a finish in Leuven, the site of the 2021 road world championships won by Julian Alaphilippe

With one eye to the third edition in Belgium, Van Aert hinted that riding it in future is firmly in his mindset. 

“Yes, I know that the gravel worlds will be held again in Italy next year and then in Belgium the following year. Maybe I’ll do it in the years to come,” he said. 

VAN AERT TAKES AIM AT MONUMENT VICTORY

Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert wore the yellow jersey during the 2022 TdF whilst riding Cervélo's new S5 aero road bike

(Image credit: Cervélo)

Van Aert is due to ride several cyclo-cross races this winter with his team, Jumbo-Visma, recently releasing his schedule. The Belgian has also revealed that his road calendar is already starting to take significant shape for the new season. 

The Belgian along with several other Jumbo-Visma teammates were recently seen on the roads of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, preparing for the opening weekend. 

However in an interview with Belgian outlet Het Laatse Nieuws (opens in new tab), Van Aert explained that it’s unlikely he will return to defend the Omloop title in 2023 and that his programme will be similar to his race schedule in 2021.

Van Aert said: “It will rather be a program like in 2021, without Omloop. The focus is on the classics in April.”

Van Aert and Jumbo-Visma have already stated that two of his big goals will be a monument victory at either Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders in April. He finished second to new teammate Dylan van Baarle at Roubaix this year. 

The Belgian also explained to Het Laatse Nieuws (opens in new tab) that peaking three times in one road season is a tough task. With that said, Van Aert hinted that he will almost certainly return to the “race of the year”, the Tour de France, with Jumbo-Visma next year. 

The Belgian was simply sensational at this year's edition of the French Grand Tour, winning the green jersey as well as three individual stages. 

“I have noticed in recent years that peaking three times in one road season is difficult. I was good at the Worlds in Australia, but not as top as in the spring or the Tour. 

"Moving on to the world's next summer after the Tour is not insurmountable,” Van Aert said. 

“I would like to ride another Grand Tour, but the Tour is still the race of the year. It doesn't get boring trying to win a Tour stage,” he added.

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