Tour de France 2020

Tour de France: Uncertainty swirls over Roglič but Jumbo-Visma remains bouyant

Jumbo-Visma remains confident ahead of Tour battle with Ineos although Dutch team still yet to confirm final roster.

Primož Roglič has marked himself out as the man to beat at this year’s Tour de France, and his Jumbo-Visma teammates are braced to do battle with Team Ineos at this year’s race.

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However, uncertainty continues to swirl over the Slovenian’s form after he was sidelined from the closing stage of the Critérium du Dauhpiné with injuries sustained in a crash the day prior.

“He is going to the Tour,” asserted sport director Merijn Zeeman. “Roglič is recovering, here on a team camp in Tignes. The medical staff treats him to get him fit. We are optimistic about that.”

While Zeeman was upbeat when speaking to NOS Thursday, Roglič threw doubt over his fitness in a post on social media the very same day.

“Did a little spin yesterday,” he wrote. “I honestly thought that I will feel better by now after the crash on Saturday at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Let’s see what the upcoming days will bring. I am staying optimistic.”

Buoyant in the Jumbo-Visma bus

Van Aert and Sepp Kuss will have vital roles in the Jumbo-Visma engine room. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Having blazed his way through the block of French races earlier this month, the potential loss of Roglič would put a huge dent in Jumbo-Visma’s hopes at knocking Team Ineos – set to be known as Ineos Grenadiers for this year’s race – from their Tour throne.

The Dutch outfit’s Tour chances have already taken a hit after Steven Kruijswijk, ever-consistent and powerful in recent races, was forced to abandon the upcoming race having dislocated his shoulder at the Dauphiné last week. Kruijswijk played a key role in his team’s repeated hammering of Team Ineos through August’s pre-tour preparation races, and was originally slated to be one of his team’s three leaders alongside Roglič and Tom Dumoulin.

Despite the late blows to the team’s leaders and still no official confirmation of the eight set to start the Tour next Saturday, the mood aboard the Jumbo-Visma bus remains buoyant.

“We seem to have the upper hand on paper,” unstoppable rouleur and superdomestique Wout Van Aert told Het Nieuwsblad on Thursday. “But it is not going to change the course of the Tour. The course is so tough that it will soon become clear in which hands the Tour lies and which team will have to take responsibility. But I cannot deny that we are currently running well.”

The team’s dominance over Ineos through the Tour de l’Ain and Dauphiné made Kruijswijk’s late withdrawal all the tougher to stomach for Kruijswijk.

“The team really has a chance to win,” the Dutchman told NOS. “The Tour was my absolute main goal this year … I was really well on my way. It makes it all the more painful to miss this Tour with a team that really has a chance this year.”

Ineos not out of the equation with trump card Bernal

2020 Criterium du Dauphine
Bernal remains the top trump in the Tour deck. Photo: James Startt

In what proved a dramatic twist to the much-hyped Ineos vs Jumbo Visma face-off, the British outfit confirmed Wednesday that four-time Tour champion Chris Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas had not made the eight set to race the Tour.

Van Aert saw Froome and Thomas’ uncharacteristically poor form first-hand in the mountains of France in the past weeks. While there were suggestions that the two Ineos stars were still building form in a strategic late-peak in fitness, their non-selection this week proved they are still too far from their best.

“I think this is mainly confirmation that Froome and Thomas don’t play hide and seek and are not great,” Van Aert said. “Yet Ineos still send a strong team to the Tour. Carapaz may have followed a strange preparation, but his stage victory in Poland was nothing wrong with that. ”

For the first time in years, Team Ineos goes into the Tour on the back foot, and they know it. However, with reigning Tour champ Egan Bernal in their team, it holds a key ace up its sleeve, and it will be pinning all its hopes on the youngster as he defends his title.

“We may not start the Tour as the top favorite, but in the end, we have last year’s winner in the team,” said Dylan van Baarle, one of the workhorses selected for the team.

The Dutchman added that “as far as he knows,” there are no issues around Bernal’s fitness after the Colombian withdrew from the final stage of racing at the Dauphiné with a back complaint, and that the 23-year-old would be lining up in Nice next Saturday.