The Belgian budding superstar of the sport is coming off some phenomenal form in recent racing, but made clear that his focus is on supporting the general classification bids of pre-race favourites Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglič.
“It doesn't change when we talk about personal goals," said van Aert. "We have another strong rider for flat and hilly stages and that will change how the work will be decided when Tony [Martin] is finished but it's not a goal that I go for stage wins or whatever. That for me remains the same."
The questions were fairly pointed for van Aert, with some questioning whether he should be regarded as the team leader after his recent form, and whether a push for the sprinter's jersey could be compatible with the Jumbo-Visma vision for yellow.
"Going for the green jersey isn't something that you can do easily in between the other things you're aiming for," said van Aert. "We're definitely aiming for the yellow jersey in Paris and going for the green jersey and every intermediate sprint to try and take points at the finishes will be impossible.
'It's not part of our plan. I want to make a goal of it in the future, and I'm still young but for now, it's not my goal."
Roglič was the presumptive leader of the squad after showing scintillating form until his crash on the penultimate stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. He has only recently resumed riding, climbing back on the bike just under a week out from the Tour de France start in Nice.
“The thing is I’m here and I’m at the start," said Roglič. "That’s really good news and it’s nice to be here. I’m also ready. We start on Saturday and I’ll just try to do my best and we’ll see how it goes.
“For sure the plans changed for me coming into the race. We didn’t plan to have this complicated start but with the crash, it took quite some time for me to restart and to be able to do the things that I wanted to do but in the last few days I’ve managed that and I’m looking forward to the start.”
There's a lot of uncertainty swirling around the Tour de France, with the race set to start in one of the declared COVID-19 hotspots in Nice and cases spiking in France, with the seven-day average at 4000 cases per day. That has led to speculation that teams may be more aggressive at the race start to get yellow and keep it, hoping that the race is stopped early. Dumoulin was adamant is his thinking that a shortened race would not yield a real Tour de France winner.
“We don’t have a strategic plan to be in the lead in case the race stops after one and a half weeks,” Dumoulin said during Jumbo-Visma’s pre-Tour press conference.
“The winner after one a and a half weeks isn’t the real winner of the Tour de France. That’s not a Tour de France, that’s a ten-day race. It’s a different race. It’s completely different. We’re preparing for Grand Tour and we want to win the Tour de France.”
The Tour de France begins on August 29, with every stage broadcast on SBS HD and the ŠKODA Tour Tracker.