Wout van Aert has spoken about the impending loss of his coach Marc Lamberts to Bora-Hansgrohe, saying that the 61-year-old, who has been at his side for 12 years, is “very deep in my heart”.
The Belgian rider will work with a different coach for the first time in his pro career in 2024 as Lamberts makes the switch to the German team. Primož Roglič, who has confirmed his imminent departure from Jumbo-Visma, has also been heavily linked with a move to Bora-Hansgrohe.
On Monday, Van Aert dedicated his victory at the Coppa Bernocchi to Lamberts, two days after learning about the move. Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad, Van Aert said he feels “regret” over having to find a new coach but said that he “wants the best” for Lamberts.
“It’s not yet clear who will be my coach; we still have to discuss that,” Van Aert said. “But it will be different in many ways. Marc was my first and, so far, only trainer. I regret having to change.
“Marc is very deep in my heart. I want the best for him and that is why I understand his decision. It was perhaps the last chance for him to change.”
Van Aert said it was emotional to hear the news from Lamberts, with the move on his mind when he headed out to Italy to close out his season.
The 29-year-old recorded his fifth win of the season at the Coppa Bernocchi, and on Thursday takes on Gran Piemonte before turning his attention to the UCI Gravel World Championships at the weekend.
“When he told me the news, I was quite emotional,” Van Aert said. “For me, it’s the end of an era. Marc and I will always keep in touch and see each other. We’ve been through too much together to just say, ‘Thank you, that’s it’. So yes, this was on my mind when I left for Italy last weekend.”
Van Aert has worked with Lamberts since he was 17 years old, improving as his career has progressed under the coach and scoring numerous major victories along the way.
While Van Aert fell short of victory in the Monuments and at the Tour de France in 2023, he said that these are still his “best years” while also noting that he can continue to improve, even if it will have to be under a new coach.
“I know I can still get better – these are my best years,” Van Aert said. “I have to ensure that I continue to pay attention to the details and there is sufficient knowledge in this team for that. It might not hurt to step out of my comfort zone either.
“I didn’t ask for this. I look at it positively and strongly believe in a new start. I also have to improve because everyone is…