'Disappointed' Van Aert out of Giro d'Italia

cycling11 April 2024 15:03| © AFP
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Wout van Aert © Gallo Images

Belgian rider Wout van Aert said on Thursday he was "disappointed" to miss this year's Giro d'Italia due to the injuries suffered during last month's Around Flanders crash.

Van Aert sustained a broken collarbone, sternum and ribs as well as damaging a lung in the one-day race on 27 March.

The 29-year-old missed the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix but could return in time for this summer's Olympic Games in Paris.

"A lot of injuries are quite good at the moment but my ribs are still a limiting factor," Van Aert said on his team, Visma Lease a Bike's social media accounts.

"It's a big shame. I'm really disappointed to miss my second big goal of the season but at this moment I need to prioritise my health and I need to give my body the time to recover," he added.

Van Aert had hoped to make his debut on the Giro, which starts on 4 May, with his team having claimed a clean sweep of the three Grand Tours last year.

His role as 'road manager' during races makes him Visma's highest paid rider alongside two-time Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard.

Van Aert, a three-time world cyclo-cross champion, is a leading contender for the gold medal in the individual time trial and the 273km road race at the Olympics.

"At this point I cannot train at all," Van Aert said.

"I'm trying to do my first pedal strokes on the bike but not enough to be able to train and that's why we made the decision to not start in the Giro d'Italia," the nine-time Tour de France stage winner added.

Visma said Frenchman Christophe Laporte will replace Van Aert in the Giro.

Van Aert's crash during Around Flanders fuelled debate about the sport's safety.

Last week, Dane Vingegaard also suffered lung damage as he crashed during the Tour of the Basque country.

Giro champion Primoz Roglic and 2022 Vuelta winner Remco Evenepoel were also hurt during the race in northern Spain.

Vingegaard and Evenepoel now face a race against time to be fit for the Tour, which starts on 29 June.

Following the collisions, the president of the French professional cyclists' union called on the world governing body, the UCI, to take responsibility for making the sport a safer place.

"Do we have to wait for the umpteenth death?" Pascal Chanteur told AFP on Friday.

"For a rider to have both legs cut off and lose his life, so that people become aware?

"If that's the idea, we're not far off."