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Tour de France

Jumbo-Visma DS: Team ‘on right track’ for Tour de France

Sepp Kuss fell short in a bid for a stage victory in the French Alps, but sport director insists there is no reason to worry ahead of Tour de France.

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Despite falling short of its typical brilliance in the mountains at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Jumbo-Visma insists things are “on the right track” for the Tour de France.

Sepp Kuss and Jonas Vingegaard came up short in bids to win a pair of climbing stages to close out the race this weekend, and Steven Kruijswijk could only muster 15th overall in the important lead-up race to the Tour.

“This week was partly about building up to the Tour,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Grisha Niermann. “There is still work to do, but we are on the right track.”

The less-than-stellar week for Jumbo-Visma comes as the team is building for the Tour de France against arch-rivals Ineos Grenadiers, and UAE Team Emirates.

Also read: Sepp Kuss bypassing Olympics to focus on Tour, Vuelta

Ineos Grenadiers confirmed it’s ready for the Tour, with Richie Porte taking the overall title, and Geraint Thomas finished third on the podium. Tao Geoghegan Hart, set to debut at the Tour later this month, was 10th.

Jumbo-Visma struggled to keep pace. Vingegaard was slow out of the gate at the Dauphiné, but found his legs in time to finish second in Sunday’s finale. The young Dane is set to debut at the Tour.

“Jonas showed again that he is on the right track,” Niermann said. “We went here with him without high expectations. After a few bad days he rode a nice time trial the day before yesterday and today he finished second.”

Also read: Jonas Vingegaard and his fast climb to the Tour de France

On Saturday, Kuss seemed poised for stage victory at La Plagne when he and eventual stage-winner Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious) dropped the favorites on the long, steady climb in the French Alps. Uncharacteristically, Kuss buckled, and could not follow the pace when Padun attacked again.

“My legs felt good. The goal was to go for the stage win,” Kuss said Saturday. “It was an ideal situation when Padun and I were in the lead. We worked well together and quickly took a nice lead. Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t follow him after a while. I can’t blame myself because I know I rode to win and tried to take my chance.”

Niermann again downplayed any signs of concern going into the Tour, where the team is hoping to push Primož Roglič into the yellow jersey in Paris.

“It does not worry us for the Tour,” he said. “We still have a few weeks to get in the right shape.”

Also read: Could Richie Porte be a legitimate Tour contender?

With another squad racing this week at the Tour de Suisse, including the comeback of Tom Dumoulin, the Tour-bound riders will reconvene at a high-altitude training camp in Tignes, France, high the French Alps ahead of the season’s top date at the Tour.

Tour leader Primož Roglič opted not to race the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse, which started Sunday and will not race before the Tour starts June 26 in Brest, France. After the Tour, Roglič will fly to Japan to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games.