Van Aert to make Tour debut as Jumbo-Visma brings mixed GC, sprinter squad
Belgian star Wout Van Aert is heading to the Tour de France.
Jumbo-Visma is among the first of the major teams to confirm their 2019 Tour de France lineup, and the squad includes the three-time cyclocross world champion as part of its mixed team of GC contenders and sprinters.
“Wout is ready for this next step,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Merijn Zeeman. “He makes our team stronger. He hasn’t had a lot of race days yet and Wout has prepared himself in an ideal way.”
Van Aert, 24, will join a deep Jumbo-Visma anchored by Steven Kruijswijk and sprinter Dylan Groenewegen. Notable absences include Robert Gesink and Giro d’Italia third-place podium finisher Primoz Roglic, who won a stage and finished fourth in last year’s Tour.
Jumbo-Visma will likely be one of the few teams that will bring a dedicated sprinter as well as a legitimate Tour podium contender.
With the reduction of grand tour squads from nine to eight, many of the major GC teams decided that it’s increasingly difficult to manage a team that can support both a sprinter and an overall contender. A legitimate sprinter needs at least two riders to help in the mass gallops, while a top Tour podium contender typically has an entire team at their disposal.
Jumbo-Visma, however, is confident it can straddle that line by bringing a diverse squad filled with riders who can do a little bit of everything.
George Bennett, back for his third Tour start, and highly touted climber Laurens De Plus, who abandoned the Giro with illness, will be designated men for the mountains. Tony Martin and Mike Teunissen will help in the sprints. Riders such as Van Aert and Amund Jansen can do a bit of everything.
With that kind of horsepower, the squad should also expect to do well in the team time trial in stage 2 at the Tour.
Hot off winning two stages and finishing third at the Giro, Jumbo-Visma brings an equally ambitious team to the Tour.
The Dutch outfit is hoping that Kruijswijk can improve on his fifth-place overall from last year, and that Groenewegen can continue his emergence as one of the peloton’s most consistent sprinters. Groenewegen has already won eight races this season, and will be looking to add to his three career Tour stage victories.
Van Aert will receive his fair share of attention, and likely get his chances to win a stage. The lure of the Tour was one part of the reason Van Aert made the jump to the WorldTour this season.
The 24-year-old continues his highly successful transition to road racing, but has never raced a grand tour and has only raced in eight one-day races this season going into this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné. Van Aert has completed only one WorldTour-level stage race — the seven-stage BinkBank Tour in 2017 — and the longest stage race he’s completed was the eight-day Tour of Austria in 2018.
Jumbo-Visma brass, however, clearly believe Van Aert is ready for challenge of the Tour in what will be his grand tour debut. Officials also confirmed Van Aert will race the Prudential Ride London on August 4 when, the team said, “preparation for his cyclocross season starts.”
That means Van Aert will continue to race in select events across the cyclocross season for 2019-2020.
>> Jumbo-Visma for 2019 Tour de France
Steven Kruijswijk (32, NED)
Dylan Groenewegen (25, NED)
Wout Van Aert (24, BEL)
George Bennett (29, NZL)
Laurens De Plus (23, BEL)
Tony Martin (34, GER)
Mike Teunissen (26, NED)
Amund Jansen (25, NOR)