Road

Jumbo-Visma sketches out Tour de France team, and it’s impressive

Can the combination of three former podium finishers, Sepp Kuss, and Wout van Aert be enough to win the Tour? Jumbo-Visma is hoping so.

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Even without Tom Dumoulin, Jumbo-Visma will bring an impressive array of firepower to the 2022 Tour de France.

With Dumoulin putting his focus on the Giro d’Italia, the Dutch WorldTour powerhouse is already mapping out its yellow jersey plans.

It confirmed its six core riders of its “Tour Eight” who will race for glory in July, with Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard playing starring roles.

“In 2021, we had the best Tour in our history with four stage wins and a second place overall,” said sport director Merijn Zeeman. “We will do everything to be at our best in July but we know the competition is strong. Tadej Pogačar is again the favorite and we are one of the challengers.”

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After finishing second two years in a row, Jumbo-Visma is going all-in in a bid for the prized yellow jersey.

Will it be enough to beat back Pogačar?

Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar at the Itzulia Basque Country
The rivals line up early in 2021 at the Itzulia Basque Country. (Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images)

With back-to-back victories, Pogačar is the dominant force in the Tour, but many see Jumbo-Visma and Roglič as leading candidates to take it to the Slovenian sensation.

Hot off winning three straight editions of the Vuelta a España, a newly focused Roglič will put the Tour at the center of his ambitions in 2022.

An unlucky crash derailed his chances last year, opening the door for another Pogačar stampede.

The team is hoping strong support Roglič and Vingegaard, who made a spectacular Tour debut with second overall in 2021, will be enough to earn them the highest ring.

The two leaders will be backed by a powerful quartet, including Wout van Aert, Sepp Kuss, Steven Kruijswijk, and newcomer Rohan Dennis. The other two starters will be designated in May, officials said.

Kuss, who rode a breakout season in 2021 by winning a Tour stage and hitting a personal best top-10 in a grand tour with eighth at the Vuelta, will lead the way in the high mountains. The Colorado climber has emerged as one of the best and most consistent climbers in the international peloton.

The arrival of Dennis, a powerful time trialist in his own right, will help fill the role left by Tony Martin, who retired in 2021.

Kruijswijk, who hit third in the 2019 Tour, is a sure bet across almost all terrains, and can even give the team a third card to play.

“It’s an advantage that we have three riders who finished on the podium,” said sport director Grischa Niermann. “We have to make good tactical decisions, even in advance. We are already looking at that. Tadej Pogačar is the big favorite, but of course, we will try to beat him as a team. We are thinking of all possible scenarios.”

Wout van Aert also chasing green

Van Aert, shown here at the Tour of Britain, also harbors ambitions for green. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Van Aert, who won three stages in 2021 in sprints, climbs, and time trials, is so strong he can play a variety of roles and still deliver a big result when the opportunity presents itself. Van Aert is also taking aim at the green points jersey.

“The dream of the green jersey is alive, but I also want to be part of the team if we can win the Tour,” van Aert said. “I want to be there. It’s a new challenge to be even better. I also proved I can be a team player and achieve success. I will try to combine that in 2022.”

On paper, the team is strong enough to take it to Pogačar as well as Ineos Grenadiers, which is expected to bring an equally impressive team built around Egan Bernal.

Zeeman admitted everything must go right between now and Paris to win cycling’s most prized tunic.

“The Tour is the biggest race in the world and the hardest to win, but we find it a fabulous challenge,” Zeeman said in a live stream team presentation. “First, we have to get through the hectic opening week without any injuries.”