Evidence of discord at Team Ineos emerged this month with Egan Bernal‘s defiant statement of intent over Tour leadership and reports of Chris Froome‘s hunt for a new team. Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma is concentrated on one thing – upsetting the British team’s eight-year stranglehold on the yellow jersey, no matter which of its three leaders claims the top step in Paris.
“It’s quite simple: we want to win the Tour with the team,” Primož Roglič said this week. “We have a great team, Tom [Dumoulin] and [Steven] Kruijswijk have different characteristics for the race so we will see when the race starts.”
Roglic indicated that Jumbo-Visma will be looking to grab time from Ineos wherever possible, with each of the leadership trio riding according to their own strengths. And whoever is best placed by the penultimate stage’s mountain time trial will be the man who will go on to fight for the team’s first Tour title.
“You always have to be ahead, to be buying time from the rivals and at the end of the stages you will see how that will be important,” Roglič told El Tiempo. “You have to get well to the time trial of stage 20, and with my experience, that is the key to knowing who will be on the podium and who will not.”
The Dutch and British teams will be in fierce rivalry at this summer’s Tour, though there are some commonalities between the two. While Jumbo-Visma is taking a powerful leadership trio of Roglič, Tom Dumoulin, and Steven Kruijswijk to the race, Ineos will be headed up by three former champions; Froome, Bernal and Geraint Thomas. Within each trio is a grand tour star returning from a one-year layoff, with Froome coming back from his crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné last June and Dumoulin restarting racing after an injury sustained at the Giro d’Italia.
Dumoulin, now confident of a full recovery from his Giro knee injury and series of subsequent complications and illnesses, tows a similar line to Roglič – “let the road decide.”
“Our main goal is to win the Tour de France,” Dumoulin said in a blog on his team’s website. “If I am good enough [then] the team will be riding for me. But also that if I am not good enough, I have to work for the others. And that is an agreement that we have made together and that I fully support.”
Despite being a three-on-three battle, Roglič sees Jumbo-Visma facing a stiff challenge at the Tour, which starts August 29 in Nice, France.
“The Ineos team is the strongest in recent years and, especially on the Tour,” he said. “But now we are in a new scenario and we wish we can do our best and beat them.”
While Team Sky developed a reputation for strangling the race in the mountains with a string of domestiques blunting rivals’ legs before unleashing Froome to secure GC seconds, Roglič sees Team Ineos – and particularly Bernal – as a less straightforward foe.
“He is an extremely good racer,” Roglič said. “In the last Tour he proved to be a good starter, on the flats and when his terrain in the mountains arrived. So you have to be good from the start.”
The Slovenian feels that his team will need to ride a near-perfect race to see one of its riders swap their yellow and black jersey for the maillot jaune of Tour leader. “[We must] try to avoid all the problems you may have during the race and plan the best strategies,” Roglič said. “We will try to close the problems and get well in the third week.”