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While Wout van Aert has been a big figure – for his team and with his own results – at the Tour de France, that looks set to change next season (Photo: Kristof Ramon)

Wout van Aert will ride the Giro d’Italia, where he will be Jumbo Visma team leader, next year and looks likely to miss the Tour de France, for the first time since he seriously turned his attentions to pro road racing, according to RCS’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, the company that also owns the Italian Grand Tour.

The newspaper says the radical new plan for Van Aert – and, by extension, for his Jumbo Visma team – will be announced in December. It will mean two-time Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard, who got such much help from the Belgian on his way to those Tour victories, will not have Van Aert by his side in France in July.

And while Van Aert is unlikely to be in a position to win the Giro, he is said to be attracted to the race because of this year’s course, with 10,000 metres less elevation gain than the Tour route, 68km in the TTs, a gravel stage and up to six sprint opportunities.

If he skips the Tour and does the Giro instead – and the classics before it – it would leave time to recover and then rebuild again towards a major effort to win a gold medal at the Olympics in Paris. He is said to be especially interested in the TT at the Olympics.

La Gazzetta dello Sport, which has reported Van Aert’s plans today, points out there is 20 per cent less climbing in the 2024 Giro compared to this year’s edition. It also says part of Van Aert’s logic, and that of his team, for foregoing the Tour is that the final week of the French Grand Tour is so difficult he may be of limited assistance to Vingegaard.

In the finale of the Tour, which will finish in Nice rather than Paris this year, there are five stages above 4,000 metres of elevation gain. And that will likely mean Vingegaard and Vuelta winner Sepp Kuss will go there backed by other climbers.

Such a difficult end to the Tour is likely to be seen as too strenuous for many of the riders hoping to aim for a medal in the Paris road race, which is a classics course with some climbing.

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