Wout van Aert won stage one at the Critérium du Dauphiné overcoming Ethan Hayter in the final 200 meters. This is the fourth win for the Belgian star. After being hit by the pandemic last year, these victories show that Aert is in a good shape to compete in the upcoming Tour de France. He commented:
Today was a nice confirmation of a nice build-up in the last weeks, I came here with a few question marks – after a preparation period, and it’s always hard to predict how it will go in a race. I felt quite good and I think we’re on track to reach the best possible shape before the Tour. On stages like today I can already show my good legs and it’s a pleasure to feel this
Van Aert secured the leader’s yellow jersey at the race, but his eyes are on something bigger. The 27-year-old works hard to land the green jersey at the Tour de France. The green jersey is used to distinguish the consistent highest finisher in the contest. This goal of Van Aer is being supported by Jumbo-Visma.
The Belgian sprinter won three stages at the last Grand Tour of 2022. These wins of Mont Ventoux, the 20-time trial stage, and the Champs-Élysées fueled the expectations of him landing the green jersey.
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He began his 2022 season by winning the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris-Nice. He won E3 Classic, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Paris-Roubaix among the Classics.He took a break from the competitions to train. With his return, he made the staggering win at the Critérium du Dauphiné. He said that he had been sharpening his skills to work on his sprint:
I had a great spring season but I wasn’t always happy with the feeling in the sprint. It’s definitely something we’ve worked on in the past couple of weeks and if it pays off immediately it’s always a good feeling
With only 200m to go at the Critérium du Dauphiné race, Hayter tried hard to shake off the Belgian sprinter but Van Aert dashed with speed, moving past Hayter with only 100m left. The joy of sweet victory was clearly visible on his face as he lifted his arms to celebrate. His win against a fast man such as Ethan Hayter is an adequate sign for the 27-year-old.
Van Aert hopes to prepare for Tour de France in the remaining of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Aert vows to maintain his race lead and support Roglič in the closing stages on weekend. He said:
We’re here with a strong team. I think the coming stages suit me quite well so we will definitely try to defend if it’s possible. In the weekend I hope to hand it over to Primoz but there are a lot of tough stages coming first
Jumbo-Visma hopes for an overall victory in this year’s race and they have had quite a promising start. With racers like Van Aert and Primož Roglič, one can only wait to see what surprises they spring at the upcoming Tour de France.
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Featured Image Via YouTube/ FloBikes