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Van Aert Will Not Ride in the Giro, Plus UCI Team Rankings

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

Because of injuries he suffered in the Dwars Door Vlaanderen on March 27, Wout van Aert will not be riding in this year’s Giro d’Italia, the 29-year-old Belgian said in a video statement on the website of his Visma–Lease a Bike team. “I’m really happy to tell you that I’m doing well,” he stated. “A lot of [my] injuries are quite good at the moment, but my ribs are still a liming factor. So, at this point, I cannot train at all.”

He went on to say that he was now making his first pedal strokes on a bike since the crash. “But not enough to be able to train. That’s why we made the decision to not start in the Giro d’Italia.” He said it was a “big shame” and that he was very disappointed to also miss his second big goal of the season, after being unable to race in the Tour of Flanders. “But at this moment, I need to prioritise my health and I need to give my body the time to recover,” van Aert said. Visma said on its website that Christophe Laporte will tackle the Giro in van Aert’s place.

The prospects of the Belgian superstar making it to the Giro after breaking his collarbone, his sternum and several ribs in the crash had always seemed unlikely. It’s unclear how this will affect the rest of van Aert’s schedule. He had planned to skip the Tour de France and ride in the Paris Olympics and the World Championships. But with Visma’s other superstar, two-time Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard, recovering from even more severe injuries, which he sustained in the Itzulia Basque Country, van Aert may be asked by the team to ride in the Tour in support of whoever is flying the team’s GC colours in the race.

This is turning into a nightmare season for Visma–Lease a Bike, after the team made history in 2023 by winning all three Grand Tours and finishing 1-2-3 in the Vuelta a España. Much of its prospects for the year depend on how quickly Vingegaard recovers from his many injuries. The team has revealed little about the Dane’s status, which has added to his father’s anxiety. “It’s really hell for us,” Claus Vingegaard told Ekstra Bladet. “A week after his crash, my wife and I still haven’t heard from Jonas. We just didn’t get the chance [to speak with him] yet. Not with Jonas but also not with his wife and Visma–Lease a Bike.”

Jonas Vingegaard
This is turning into a nightmare season for Visma–Lease a Bike. © Profimedia

Lidl-Trek and Alpecin-Deceuninck make big moves in UCI rankings

Thanks to their recent successes in one-day races and the misfortunes that have befallen Visma–Lease a Bike, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Lidl-Trek have made substantial moves up the UCI team rankings and pushed Visma off the podium. Lidl-Trek jumped from fifth to second and now has 6,221 points, still well off the pace set by the dominant UAE Team Emirates, who have 11,066. Alpecin-Deceuninck moved from eighth to third and now stands at 6,215 points. Visma, which had been second, is now in fourth, with 6,009.8 points, as the team’s two superstars, Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard, continue to recover from injuries sustained in recent crashes.

Lidl’s success is due primarily to its sprinter/puncheur Mads Pedersen who has notched six wins so far this year, including the classic Gent-Wevelgem and three stages and the GC in the Tour de la Provence. Sprinter Jonathan Milan also contributed, with his two stage wins in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Alpecin has flown onto the podium on the wings of its Classics superstar Mathieu van der Poel who has registered three big wins this year, including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and on the legs of sprinter Jasper Philipson who also racked up three wins, including the Classic Brugge-De Panne and the E3 Saxo Classic.

It’s also worth mentioning the rise of  Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, which flew from 18th to fifth thanks to Benoît Cosnefroy and Paul Lapeira. The 28-year-old Cosnefroy notched four of the team’s nine victories, including the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes GC and Wednesday’s La Flèche Brabançonne. The 23-year-old Lapeira has three victories, including the one-day Paris-Camembert and a stage of the Itzulia Basque Country.

Decathlon managed to leapfrog Soudal–Quick Step, which fell off the podium despite racking up 13 wins so far this year, including five by its stellar sprinter Tim Merlier and four by Remco Evenepoel. But the UCI’s team rankings are based on the points netted by a squad’s 10 top riders in a calendar year, so it reflects not only the results of a team’s best riders but also the placings of other team members.