Fourth-place was not enough for Dylan Groenewegen at the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.
The Dutchman narrowly missed out on the podium in the fast finish in Novara in what was his first ride back in the peloton after serving a nine-month suspension.
“I have to be satisfied with fourth place after nine months of absence,” Groenewegen said Sunday. “Still, I am a bit disappointed. I am a winner and always want more. But a fourth-place in my first sprint is certainly not that bad.”
Groenewegen was a late call-up to the Jumbo-Visma squad set for Italy, and Saturday’s opening time trial was his first race since the terrible incident at the Tour of Poland which left Fabio Jakobsen with a swathe of career-threatening injuries. The Dutchman was subsequently suspended for his dangerous move by the UCI, while Jakobsen spent months in hospitals and rehab before making his racing return at the Tour of Turkey last month.
Groenewegen had started the race under a cloud after Jakobsen hit out on social media this week, saying that his rival was still yet to issue a personal apology for the crash.
Despite the lack of competition and tricky build-up to the Giro, Groenewegen didn’t seem to be lacking in confidence or leg-speed Sunday. He marked the winning kick of stage-winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and was only squeezed off the podium by a late lunge for the line from Elia Viviani (Cofidis).
📽️ In Wouter’s name. The final km of Stage 2 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia!
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 9, 2021
The 27-year-old now has just a handful more nailed-on opportunities to better his fourth-place finish at this month’s Giro, with stage 3 Monday possibly being the first.
“My legs feel good, so I’m looking forward to the next sprint,” he said. “The team drove very well. This is my first time with [leadout men] Dekker and Affini. That takes some getting used to, but because of them I was very well placed.
“The sprint went quite well and better than expected. Maybe I should have started earlier or hesitated a little less. But I have to regain that feeling and the self-confidence too. ”