Primož Roglič and Tom Dumoulin will head up a powerful Jumbo-Visma squad at the Tour next week as they look to wrestle Team Ineos from its Tour de France perch. With just two days remaining until the race rolls out of Nice, the duo are keen to play down the much-anticipated match-up.
“It’s not Jumbo-Visma against Ineos,” Dumoulin said Thursday. “It’s going to be a battle between a lot of riders, 20 riders at least will be on the start line with the hope of the podium or to win, and we just have to be sure we’re the best of them. It’s best we just focus on ourselves, not other teams or riders.”
The team’s attention on only themselves was emphasized by Roglič, saying “we just need to try to do our best as individuals and as a team … that’s the only thing we can manage. I don’t really think about rivals.”
Roglič will line up for the Grand Départ on Saturday as a five-star favorite for overall victory. Despite late concerns over his fitness after a heavy fall at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month, the Slovenian bristled when being asked about whether he was ready for what is set to be a high-octane Tour.
“I am here, I’m at the start, so that’s good news. And in that case, I’m ready – the same as all the other guys that start on Saturday,” he said.
“I would be happy if I didn’t crash, but it was the same for all the guys, it’s a long time since being back on the bike – I think all of this is just a part of cycling. And hopefully all the rest will go a lot smoother going through the Tour.”
While Roglič overcame his late injury scare, Steven Kruijswijk – who also crashed on the same chaotic stage at the Dauphiné – will not start the Tour due to a fractured shoulder. Having spent months sketching out tactics based around a trio of leaders, Jumbo-Visma has had to tweak out its Tour masterplan in the past two weeks.
“It’s not going to be exactly the same,” Dumoulin said when asked about the team’s approach without Kruijswijk.
“He would have been one of the best guys in the Tour de France and we’re definitely going to miss him,” Dumoulin continued. “We have to change our tactics a bit, but hopefully now it’s Primož and me who go for GC, and we will both be close to the podium in the last week then we see what happens.”
Although Roglič came out of the early-August races as the undeniable top trump in the Jumbo-Visma deck, Dumoulin’s statement suggests the long-stated plan to “let the road decide” who plays ultimate team leader remains in place.
Having not raced his bike since June last year, Dumoulin returned to action at the Tour de l’Ain at the start of August and the Dutchman’s big engine appeared to be not far off top tuning. After a further two weeks of preparation since the Dauphiné wrapped up, Dumoulin could be back to his Giro d’Italia-winning best, and will make a formidable partner to Roglič.
Though Dumoulin is a new addition to the team having joined at the start of this season, there’s no pecking order in Jumbo-Visma, and for now, it’s all harmonious on the Dutch team’s bus.
“The strongest guy will win at the end,” Roglič said. “But looking at Tom, he really makes big steps now to be at his best here, and I definitely think it’s nice now to have such a strong guy in the team. We will try together to do the best that we can.”