Wout van Aert to ride Paris-Roubaix, but in a supporting role

Jumbo-Visma rider makes his return from his Covid-enforced absence

Wout van Aert
Wout van Aert at Paris-Roubaix last year
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert will race Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, his team have announced, but the Belgian champion will ride in a support role.

The Jumbo-Visma rider was forced to miss the Tour of Flanders after testing positive for Covid at the end of March, and returned to training last week. 

On Thursday, Jumbo-Visma included Van Aert in its team announcement on social media for The Hell of the North, to which the Belgian replied "back racing".

In his absence, he also missed the Amstel Gold Race, for which he was defending champion, but the switch in the schedule between Amstel and Roubaix meant that he could return for the latter.

In a statement, Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman said that his preparation had been anything but ideal, but he will still be able to "play a role" supporting their other riders Christophe Laporte, Mike Teunissen and Nathan Van Hooydonck.

"He also had very extensive examinations before he resumed training," Zeeman said. "At the beginning of this week, the medical staff determined that he is fully fit and can continue his efforts at top sporting level.

"On the functioning of the heart, among other things. Wout's health is in excellent shape. But after a week of isolation, top form is no longer possible. His run-up to Roubaix is poor and he will miss the reconnaissance on Thursday.

"All in all, it is anything but an ideal preparation. However, a rider like Wout can still play a role in supporting Christophe Laporte, Mike Teunissen or Nathan Van Hooydonck."

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It was reported on Wednesday that Van Aert wants to ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège next weekend, and his return to racing strengthens his case for riding the Walloon Monument for the first time.

The Belgian was asked by his team not to share his training data on Strava ahead of the weekend, in order to prevent speculation.

Teunissen said the return of Van Aert can provide an "extra advantage" at Roubaix at the weekend.

"We have shown all spring that riding with a strong team is good," he said. "You can really make each other stronger. It is a man-to-man fight, but it is still nice to have good guys around you. That is always an extra advantage."

Alongside Van Aert, Teunissen, Laporte and Van Hooydonck will be Edoardo Affini, Timo Roosen, and Mick van Dijke.

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