UPDATED: Another COVID-19 case hits Jumbo-Visma ahead of Giro d’Italia
Gesink and Foss forced out, Dennis and Van Emden in: Roglič loses two key teammates for upcoming rumble with Remco Evenepoel.
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UPDATED: Jumbo-Visma was forced to make another roster change Thursday after Jos van Emden was zapped with COVID-19.
Sam Oomen will take his place in the late-hour change that shakes up the squad of pre-race favorite Primož Roglič.
“It shows that we still need to be careful and maybe we bring back the safety steps from a few years ago,” Roglič said Thursday. “I am healthy and I hope to stay healthy for the race. It won’t change much for me.”
Earlier this week, domestiques Robert Gesink and Tobias Foss were both forced to withdraw after being diagnosed with COVID-19, revealing that the virus is still circulating inside the peloton.
Another covid case, another change… Sam Oomen will replace Jos van Emden in the Giro d’Italia. pic.twitter.com/SihyEV5XIq
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) May 4, 2023
COVID-19 put an early tint on the pink jersey campaign of Primož Roglič.
Jumbo-Visma confirmed Tuesday top domestiques Robert Gesink and Tobias Foss were forced to withdraw from its provisional Giro d’Italia eight after they contracted COVID-19 at the Tour de Romandie last week.
The twosome will be replaced by Jos van Emden and Rohan Dennis.
The news makes for a further tweak to Roglič’s Giro d’Italia support crew after Wilco Kelderman was previously passed unfit after he crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Dutch GC contender was replaced by climber ace Sepp Kuss.
Roglič and Kuss will also be joined by Jan Tratnik, Edoardo Affini, Koen Bouwman, and Michel Hessmann when the Giro rolls out of the Abruzzo this weekend.
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What do the late adjustments mean in the race for the “maglia rosa”?
Van Emden and Dennis bring 25 grand tour starts-worth of savvy to the Jumbo-Visma team set to take on Remco Evenepoel this month.
Van Emden himself already raced 11 Giro d’Italia and will be one of the wisest in the bunch to the potholes and perils of the wild and sometimes wacky Italian tour.
Dennis, who retires this winter, made his name as superdomestique when he towed Tao Geoghegan Hart through the Alps when the Brit won the 2020 “corsa rosa”.
Unfortunately, covid strikes again. 🦠 Besides Wilco Kelderman, also Tobias Foss and Robert Gesink will be replaced in the Giro d’Italia. Jos van Emden and Rohan Dennis are their substitutes. pic.twitter.com/FiYQdEXcTG
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) May 2, 2023
Van Emden and Dennis sure have the pedigree required for a grand tour-topper team.
However, there could be questions over their form and whether they share the climbing capabilities of Gesink and Foss.
Gesink – a key carriage of many of Jumbo-Visma’s grand tour mountain trains – and TT world champion Foss both spent weeks at altitude this spring with Roglič, Kuss, and the rest of the Giro team.
The pair rode through a 2023 calendar pointing toward the Italian tour and were racing toward a fitness peak last month.
Van Emden and Dennis will likely be a half-watt behind after their racing schedules previously focused elsewhere.
Evenepoel also saw a shift to his climber crew Tuesday when Soudal Quick-Step confirmed its Giro d’Italia eight. Fausto Masnada was benched and replaced after conceding he didn’t have the form.
The Tour de Romandie didn’t only cause difficulties for Foss and Gesink.
The Swiss race saw a handful of abandons due to sickness or infection with the virus, including the Italy-bound Mark Cavendish.