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look.  Van Aart does not expect this in the future and believes this is unfortunate for cycling

look. Van Aart does not expect this in the future and believes this is unfortunate for cycling

Not 55 km, but barely 17.9 km of gravel roads today in Classica Jaén. the reason? Heavy rain. “If they stay with the old route, it will be almost cyclocross. The change reduces the chances of Wout,” says Martin Winant, leader of the Visma – Lease a Bike team. Van Aert: “It's a pity, but safety comes first.”

look. Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior removes kilometers of gravel

At Visma – Lease a Bike they were at a loss on Sunday morning. Sporting director Martin Winant took an early special flight from Belgium to Murcia on Thursday and immediately jumped in the car for the five-hundred-kilometre drive to Jaén. The Dutch team was not on the start in the first two editions of the Spanish Gravel Classic and wanted to explore the gravel strips between the olive groves beforehand in order to give leader Wout van Aert a thorough race preparation.

When Winant returned to the team hotel after another five-hundred-kilometre drive, he was very impressed. “The gravel slides were in bad shape. Sometimes really deep mud. It would be close to cyclocross, and if you didn't have the right equipment, that could cause problems.”

Van Aert led teammate Quigg to victory in the Clásica Almería on Sunday. © Pictures News

The Wynants' efforts turned out to be in vain. Due to heavy rains, the organization decided on Sunday to remove nearly forty kilometers of gravel roads from the course. What's left: Four gravel strips totaling 17.9 kilometers of gravel roads in the final 55 kilometers of the race. “There's a big difference,” says Winant. “The heavier, steeper gravel segments have been omitted. Also a five-kilometre stretch uphill, the last kilometer at ten percent grade. That would make the difference.”

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It was also there where Tadej Pogacar made the difference last year. Is the course still challenging enough to make a difference? Van Aart scored a goal in this match. “The old track with wet gravel roads and mud was too close to cyclo-cross. It shouldn't have been changed for Wout's chances of winning,” Winant says.

However, in Visma – Lease a Bike they only show an understanding of the change in lane. “Apart from the first gravel strip preceded by a steep descent over the cobblestones, I don't think the track will be too dangerous, but we always talk about safety in this sport. Now an organization is proactively making a change to provide more safety, and we should applaud that.” “says Winant.

Test case for the tour

Van Art has the same opinion. “I think it's unfortunate, but I suppose there are good reasons to change course. Martin did talk about the bad gravel strips on Friday and there was a lot of rain in that area last weekend. Safety comes first. The few remaining gravel strips will be difficult enough given the weather conditions wet.

Winant: “There are three types of gravel. Freshly laid gravel, slate gravel and gravel gravel. The new track will only have strips of new gravel. These are semi-highways, but because they are new construction, you are still sinking deep into the tires. This makes “It's difficult.”

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© Pictures News

This means that Van Aert will be one of the candidates. “I have trained well in recent weeks, but currently my condition is a little less good than in recent years when I start racing on the road, because I have not yet completed the hill training period. Also based on how I felt in Almeria, I cannot say how good I am “Indeed. I felt good, but it was not a difficult race. In Jane I will be a little wiser about my fitness. I'm really looking forward to it. I love racing on gravel.”

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At Visma – Lease a Bike, they strictly select the bikes they use in Paris-Roubaix. However, few riders will ride bicycles. “A functional test for the gravel stage of the Tour. In terms of the material, it will definitely be a good test,” Winant says.

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