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Remember Bob Jungels? He’s back.
The former Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne winner is back in action and looking “to win races again” after successful surgeries for a case of iliac endofibrosis that had nagged him for years.
Jungels became one of the best all-rounders in the bunch when racing with Quick-Step at the end of last decade only to fade from view when the problem in his femur flared up. The Luxembourger now believes two operations in the fall have put him right and ready to return to the top with Ag2r-Citroën in 2022.
“On the values that we see in training, I am quite optimistic for this new chapter,” Jungels told L’Essentiel this week. “It gives a lot of confidence for the new season. For me and for the team, it was important to see that the problem was solved. My legs hurt – but in a normal way – again.”
Jungels, 29, is hoping he can refind his high after he had to “start from scratch” following his surgeries late last year.
“I hope I will still be in the role of one of the leaders this year, but it is not known what will happen with my form, so I remain cautious,” he said. “I will have freedom, especially in the first races, to see if I find my old level. Then I hope to win races again.”
An on-form Jungels would add weight to Ag2r-Citroën’s misfiring classics squad after Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen didn’t hit the highs they had expected last year.
Jungels is slated for a busy spring highlighted by starts at Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After that, he’s expected to be riding with Aussie star Ben O’Connor at the Tour de France.
Jungels said that the arterial issue and the setbacks that followed impacted his mind just as much as it did his body – but now he’s back and bright as ever.
“It was very hard, maybe even more than at the physical level,” he said. “I was able to rediscover the pleasure of cycling, by mountain biking with friends for example. I found my passion again. I never stopped believing in my abilities, but it’s very difficult when you know something is wrong.
“Mentally, I had a blockage and it was important that it went away. Now I’m really happy, you also see it off the bike. I smile again and it’s something people notice.”