Hit in the knee, Wout van Aert gave up competing in the Belgian championships. A week before the Tour de France, it’s a blow for the luxury teammate of Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard.

Belgium will have a new champion. Winner last year, Wout van Aert will not participate in the road race of the Belgian championships. The Jumbo-Visma rider was injured in training: he hit one of his knees against his handlebars, and has since suffered from a small irritation on this joint.

“It’s a shame that I can’t defend my jersey, reacted Van Aert. Normally, I would never give up a Belgian championship. I also regret having missed the time trial (won this Thursday by Remco Evenepoel, editor’s note), because it simply did not correspond to the program. However, it’s the wisest decision because I don’t want to jeopardize my chances of competing in the Tour de France. »

Van Aert has established himself for three years as one of the major players in the Tour de France. Last year, he won three stages: a mountain stage (in Malaucène after the double ascent of Ventoux), the Albie time trial between Libourne and Saint-Émilion, then the sprint on the Champs-Élysées . Only Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault had managed to win three stages with different profiles (mountain, sprint, time trial) in the same edition of the Tour de France. Van Aert is probably the most complete rider on the planet, and would be the big favorite for the green jersey if his team let him aim for that goal, which is not the trend.

In the meantime, a package from Van Aert (or a diminished Van Aert) could have an influence in the race for the yellow jersey. The Belgian is not himself a contender for the final victory, even though he finished 20th and 19th in the last two editions. But he is the most valuable teammate of Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard, the two main opponents of King Tadej Pogacar. With all the pitfalls on the program for the first week (curbs, cobblestones, etc.), Van Aert should be a key element of the Jumbo-Visma armada. This is why no risk is taken with his health.