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Jumbo-Visma prepares for Tour de France with focus on team unity

Dutch squad lays out race schedules for season restart with riders focused on team victories rather than personal ambitions.

After two months of seeing their riders cooling their jets and backing off training through the global coronavirus shutdown, Jumbo-Visma is preparing to fire up its powerful team again.

The Dutch outfit has mapped out schedules for its key riders, with the Tour de France and October’s classics team priorities.

“From June 1, we will start with a real start to the rest of the season. Then we start training again in a targeted manner and the playing time is over,” said Merijn Zeeman, team sports director.

“We stick to our position to go to the Tour with the strongest possible team,” Zeeman told Het Nieuwsblad. “That is to say with Tom Dumoulin, Primoz Roglic, [and] Steven Kruijswijk.” The leadership trio will be backed up by Wout van Aert, Tony Martin, Sepp Kuss, Robert Gesink and Laurens de Plus.

This year will see Dumoulin make his debut at the team having transferred from Team Sunweb in the winter. The Dutch star’s move came just months after Roglic rose to the world’s attention as a grand tour contender, having won last year’s Vuelta a España and taken third at the Giro d’Italia. The Slovenian’s feathers were not ruffled at the arrival of his new teammate.

“It is good to have as many strong riders on board as possible,” Roglic said this weekend.

“I never thought about leaving the team at the time [that Dumoulin signed],” Roglic told AD. “We haven’t raced together yet, but Tom is a nice guy. As a team, we want to perform as well as possible. In cycling, it is quite simple and fair if you are the best rider, especially in the mountains. As a team we want to win the race with the strongest rider.”

Jumbo-Visma’s trio of leaders will be battling Team Ineos’ triumvirate of Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, and, subject to rumors of a mid-season transfer, Chris Froome. The British squad has always stuck by its line that ‘the road decides‘ who ultimately fights for GC honors at grand tours, and Roglic indicated that Jumbo-Visma would be following a similar approach.

“We have a selection on paper, but hopefully we can ride a few more races in practice to see how it goes,” he said. “If I am not good enough to win the Tour later, I will just ride in service.”

Roglic, Dumoulin, and Kruikswijk will be shepherded through the flatlands of France by Belgian powerhouse van Aert, who last year won a stage from a reduced sprint before crashing heavily and abandoning a few stages later. Along with playing domestique, he is also hoping to snipe for more stage wins this year.

Like Roglic, van Aert is focused on the team’s ‘total cycling’ approach, one where “we all put 100 percent to win it as a team,’ as team manager Richard Plugge told VeloNews in December.

“Last year I tasted success in the Tour. If that opportunity arises then I can take my chance in the more difficult rides or the sprint of a smaller group,” van Aert told Het Laatste Nieuws. “That’s the beauty of the team, that those opportunities arise. Everyone sees that as something positive.”

After the Tour, George Bennett and Dylan Groenewegen will lead the team at the Giro d’Italia, and Kruijswijk will captain the team at the Vuelta a España.

Jumbo-Visma’s second major focus for 2020 will be October’s one-day races, with van Aert racing across the cobbles, and Roglic and Dumoulin bolstering the squad for the Ardennes classics. Van Aert will also be riding season-opening classics Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo.