Wout van Aert, the acclaimed Belgian cyclist, is poised to make a momentous debut at the Giro d'Italia in 2024 as he forgo the Tour de France. Instead, he will spearhead the efforts of Jumbo-Visma at the Italian Grand Tour, subsequently focusing his preparations on the Paris Olympic road race and time trial.
According to a report from the esteemed Italian sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Dutch cycling team harbours high hopes for Van Aert. They are confident that he has the potential to secure a place in the top five of the general classification come May.
The 2024 Corsa Rosa is noted for featuring 20% less climbing than in previous years, presenting Van Aert with an opportunity to capitalize on the two time trial stages to create a time buffer against his main competitors.
Van Aert's 2024 Strategy
Van Aert, who has predominantly focused on the Tour de France in his career, participating five times, is gearing up for a season of change in 2024. His ambitions include not just the Giro, but also the spring Classics, the Paris Olympic Games, and the Road World Championships in Zürich.
With Jonas Vingegaard, the defending Tour de France champion, and Sepp Kuss, the Vuelta a España winner, leading Jumbo-Visma at the Tour, Van Aert is poised to enjoy unparalleled freedom at the Giro, which is scheduled to run from May 4-26.
"The prospect of Wout Van Aert competing in the 2024 Giro d'Italia is rapidly evolving from a mere possibility to a tangible plan," remarks Luca Gialanella, La Gazzetta dello Sport’s head of cycling. "All that’s left is for an official statement from the team, expected at their December gathering.
The recent unveiling of the 2024 Tour de France route has dispelled any remaining uncertainty regarding this decision." In an early October interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Van Aert expressed a strong interest in participating in the Giro d'Italia, though he acknowledged that the final decision rests with the team's management.
"Italy holds a special place in my heart," he admitted. The Jumbo-Visma team is expected to formally announce their rider targets during their 2024 team presentation on December 22. The 2024 Giro d'Italia will kick off in Piemonte, featuring an inaugural stage around Turin, followed by a summit finish at Oropa on the second day.
While the race sees a reduction in climbing meters from 52,000 in 2023 to 42,000, it incorporates a substantial number of time trial kilometers. This includes a 37.2km trial to Perugia on stage 7 and a flat 31km stage a week later in Desenzano del Garda.
The Giro concludes with several challenging mountain stages, though Van Aert has proven his climbing capabilities time and again, notably supporting team leaders Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France, and his memorable double ascent of Monte Ventoux in a breakaway in 2021.
Post-Giro, Van Aert's spring is anticipated to revolve around yet another bid for victory at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the two coveted cobbled Monuments. With the Tour de France off his agenda for the summer, he can dedicate his time to altitude training for the Paris Olympics, competing in the time trial on July 27 and the road race on August 4.
The remainder of Van Aert's summer could see him tackle the Vuelta a España from August 17 to September 8, before heading to Switzerland for the World Championships at the month's end, where he aims to surpass his previous tally of four silver medals.