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Wout van Aert and Tim Wellens to test off-road form at Monday’s Clásica Jaén

Wout van Aert and Tim Wellens to test off-road form at Monday's Clásica Jaén

Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) has run second and third in Clasica Jaen Paraiso Interior’s previous two editions 12 months after Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team…

Sunday, Feb 11

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Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) has run second and third in Clasica Jaen Paraiso Interior’s previous two editions 12 months after Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) blazed his way to a spectacular solo victory in his first-ever participation in the Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior , whether Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease A Bike) can have a similarly stunning debut in Spain’s top mixed-surface challenge is just one of several leading questions to be resolved this Monday.

Van Aert’s first 2024 race outing took place in the much more straightforward Clásica de Almería on Sunday, where he led out teammate Olav Kooij for their team’s opening victory of the new season.

But Monday’s menu of four challenging segments of rain-soaked gravel roads constitutes the first major test of how the Belgian champion’s radically different winter program, which featured far less cyclocross and a much earlier start than 2023 or 2022, could have benefited – or not – his form for the fast approaching cobbled Classics.

Jaén’s extensive olive tree plantations will form a stunning visual backdrop to Monday’s 158km race through central southern Spain, and one which could hardly be more different to the windswept green fields and sprawling industrial hinterlands of western Flanders Van Aert will face in a little over two weeks at the Opening Weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne .

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But two key factors will make the Clásica Jaén a Belgian Classics reference point for Van Aert: the decisive nature of the 17.9km of off-road racing – […]

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