Dylan Groenewegen believes that he and Michael Matthews can divide and conquer the sprints in 2022.
Groenewegen made a surprise move to BikeExchange-Jayco for this season, despite having two years still to run on his Jumbo-Visma contract. The switch means that he will get a lot more individual opportunities, but he will also have to share the head of the sprint train with Matthews.
The duo has largely different race programs for 2022 and the first time they are set to meet at a race will be the Tour de France in July. Rather than butting up against each other to compete for opportunities, Groenewegen believes that they can help each other.
“I can take some bottles in the race for him,” Groenewegen joked with VeloNews when asked how the two would work together. “We are really different. He is more of a puncheur on the hilly stages on the stages where the last parts are really uphill. Yeah, I’m more of a speed sprinter. And Mathews is more of a puncheur. We are totally different.”
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“I think it’s good when you have some good riders in the team and who can take the victories,” he continued. “That’s also good for me if ‘Bling’ takes a victory. It’s also good for me to take the pressure off and it’s also good for Matthews to get the pressure off if I take some victory, so I think we can help each other in that way.”
All things going to plan, Groenewegen will make his debut in BikeExchange colors at the Saudi Tour early next month. It will be the first chance he will get to really test how well he’s gelled with his new sprint train.
Groenewegen knows Amund Grøndahl Jansen well from their time together at Jumbo-Visma, but everyone else is new to him. The team has plenty of experience in setting up sprinters and pre-season training has gone well, but the proof will be in the pudding.
“You can train it but in training you win, always, so it’s easy but we have to see it in the races,” he said. “I think they’re really good guys and there are some guys who worked with Caleb [Ewan] in the last years when he was riding on the GreenEdge team, and also with [Luka] Mezgec and Matthews. I think we have a really good team.”
Following the Saudi Tour, Groenewegen will remain in the Middle East to contest the UAE Tour, which should also provide ample opportunity to test and tweak his sprint train. He will hope that everything is in good running order when he returns to Europe for Paris-Nice in March.
He currently has just De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem on his classics calendar before he starts tuning up for the Tour de France with appearances in Hungary and Slovenia.
There is a certain ebb and flow in the role of sprint trains at races but having the right team to back you can be the difference between winning and losing. Getting it fine-tuned will be important.
“I think it’s really important, but also it’s really important to have the same goal in the final and to think the same,” said Groenewegen. “With Mezgec and Amund it’s really possible to think the same and make the same choices. We have to see at the races, and we will try in the Saudi Tour.
“For me, it’s important that we also train the sprinting there. We have new riders, and I’m also new in the team, and it’s important that we make a really good start, and hopefully, we can take victory.”