Wout van Aert has been urged to carve out a specialist skill in order to get the best out of his huge talent.
The Belgian suffered a disappointing day at the Tour of Flanders, as he came home in sixth after being dropped by Mathieu van der Poel and eventual winner Kasper Asgreen up the Kwaremont.
Van Aert was favourite to secure victory in the Ronde after racing to glory at Gent-Wevelgem the previous week, but the Jumbo-Visma rider did not have the power in his legs in the final 30 kilometres.
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"Today I was missing the legs, no excuses," he said. "I didn’t have the feeling I wanted today. I tried to survive as long as possible, but the last time up the Kwaremont was the moment where I collapsed.
"I just didn’t have the legs in the final, so that’s a little bit disappointing but I have no excuses, I just wasn’t good enough."
It has been a good season so far for Van Aert, as he won two stages and locked horns with the GC specialists at Tirreno-Adriatico following strong showings in the cyclo-cross arena, and he will look to bounce back at Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold.
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That all-round cycling strength is a huge talent, but 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt feels it could also be a curse - and has urged the 26-year-old to settle on one skillset.
“He’s a super-domestique in the high mountains, sprinter in the grand tours, rides cyclo-cross like few others,” Backstedt said on GCN. “At some point you have got to find that one thing that you specialise in that you become really, really good at.
“Classic racing and sprinting in the Grand Tours kind of work hand in hand, but at the moment you want to be a GC rider and be the super-domestique in the high mountains that he found himself in that position last year, then the Classics racing will start taking a bit of a hit.”
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