Tour of FlandersOne week after his contact with Jan Bakelants, who tested positive on Covid-19, in the Extra Time Koers studio, he was kept aside by his team Sunweb for Gent-Wevelgem, Tiesj Benoot is ‘back in business’.
“Last Saturday was the most difficult day mentally,” says Benoot. “After that I was able to quickly turn the switch. I trained hard and long on Sunday and Monday, I rode the Tour route again. Only. I watched Gent-Wevelgem on TV. (grins) Nice to see, but I would rather have cycled in between myself. Especially since it was one of the toughest finals in years. Sin.”
Or a test by the team itself could not have fitted that? “Yes, but a negative result doesn’t really mean anything. You cannot be sick and still become contagious within 48 hours. It was up to our team doctor to make an estimate. He regarded it as a ‘positive contact’. You can discuss this, but according to the protocol of the UCI and the World Tour teams, the team took the only right decision. I had asked Sunweb permission to go to Extra Time Course and got it. In retrospect, I should not have done it. Anyway, it happened and I can’t change it anymore. ”
Physically missing Gent-Wevelgem should not have any influence in the Ronde, Benoot thinks. “I feel ready. You have Van Aert and Van der Poel. Below that is a large group of 15, 20 riders who have a chance. I count myself on that. The shape of the day will be very decisive. Few riders who will want to ride with Wout and Mathieu to the last Paterberg, I think. So I hope for a long, difficult final. That works to my advantage. My top favorite? Bettiol. How strong was it in Gent-Wevelgem, say. ”
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