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Dylan Groenewegen returns from suspension at Giro d’Italia

The Dutch sprinter's nine-month ban for causing Fabio Jakobsen's horrific crash ends one day before the Giro d'Italia starts.

Dylan Groenewegen will make a high-profile return to racing at the Giro d’Italia in May following a nine-month suspension for provoking Fabio Jakobsen‘s crash at last year’s Tour of Poland.

The Jumbo-Visma sprinter’s ban ends on May 7, one day before the Italian grand tour begins in Torino.

Groenewegen, 27, was expected to make a much lower-key comeback next month, but the team opted to change plans because of COVID-19 causing uncertainty in the cycling calendar.

Also read: Fabio Jakobsen: From hospital bed to peloton

Groenewegen — who revealed that he received death threats following the Jakobsen incident — is braced for some negative reaction to his return but is, nevertheless, looking forward to it.

“I have received many heart-warming messages after all that has happened, but I am also taking into account some negative reactions on my return. That might happen anyway,” Groenewegen said.

“I have spoken with Fabio before he went to Turkey, and it was good to see how well he did there. I am very much looking forward to racing again myself too now and I am glad that I can do that in a beautiful race like the Giro d’Italia.”

Groenewegen was handed a nine-month racing ban by the UCI for pushing Jakobsen against the barriers during the bunch finish at the opening stage of the Tour of Poland last August.

The high-speed finish in Katowice was later banned under new safety measured introduced by the UCI.

Jakobsen was left with life-threatening injuries after going through the roadside barriers, and only returned to racing at the Tour of Turkey earlier this month.

The crash sparked intense debate about course safety as well as the the risks sprinters face, and put Groenewegen under the microscope. Jumb0-Visma management supported its Dutch sprinter in the fallout of the high-profile controversy.

Also read: CPA’s Gianni Bugno blames barriers, not Dylan Groenewegen for severity of Poland crash

Groenewegen will replace Chris Harper, who is suffering with an eye condition, at the Giro d’Italia. The team is targeting the overall classification with George Bennett, and is not expecting immediate results from Groenegwegen.

“Dylan is one of our leaders, but he has not been able to race for a long time due to his long suspension. We had mapped out a nice program for him that would allow him to return to the peloton in the shadows,” said sport director Merijn Zeeman.

“Dylan has worked hard for his return, but he has no race rhythm, and he will have to find his place in the peloton after everything that happened. That is now the priority.

“It is great that Fabio Jakobsen has made a good return in Turkey,” Zeeman said. “Now that Dylan has served his suspension, it is hoped that the same will apply to him soon. That’s the most important thing now. I hope everyone will give him that chance.”