And that means no one — except leaders Primož Roglič, Jonas Vingegaard, and Wout van Aert — has guaranteed spots.
When asked if American climbing ace Sepp Kuss is looking good to earn a return ticket to the Tour, Niermann said the focus is on bringing a strong collective.
“There are no guarantees for anybody and we want to send the strongest team to the Tour,” Niermann said. “We have come from altitude and we know how the guys are going.
“It will be a hard decision for some, but we will be there at the Tour with a very strong team.”
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That means such team stalwarts as Kuss, Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink, and newcomer Rohan Dennis will have to wait to see if they make the cut.
“I cannot promise anything but that the best eight riders will be on that list,” Niermann said. “We’ve had some setbacks with injuries and some riders tested positive for COVID. We have to be cautious and we want to have the best eight riders at the Tour.”
An uphill finish today. ⛰ pic.twitter.com/uPfNMaK6MJ
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) June 7, 2022
Niermann confirmed there are “11 or 12 riders” under consideration for the Tour. The final decision will be made after the Tour de Suisse concludes June 19.
There’s been a lot of speculation on whether or not Kuss, who’s raced the past two editions of the Tour as one of the top climbing aces for the team, will be back for 2022.
Niermann didn’t give anything away, only saying that Kuss will race the Tour de Suisse with a focus on trying to win a stage.
“He is at the Tour de Suisse and he is in good shape, and we will see it day by day,” Niermann said of Kuss. “He is not the born GC specialist, but the Tour de Suisse has so much climbing and altitude it’s possible in the end he comes out on top. I think the main objective will be going for a stage win.”
Jumbo-Visma is betting on strength in numbers for the Tour
The pressure is on Jumbo-Visma to arrive at the Tour with a strong block to try to challenge Pogačar’s tightening grip on the yellow jersey.
Pogačar has won the past two editions of the Tour, with Jumbo-Visma finishing second on each occasion, first with Roglič in 2020, and last year with Vingegaard.
Niermann confirmed that Roglič and Vingegaard will start as co-leaders for the Tour, with Van Aert playing his own cards in the time trials, stages, and the hunt for the green points jersey.
“We will go to the Tour with two leaders. Jonas is on the level, he had a good training camp, and he will be there also,” he said. “Primož is always up for taking on Tadej. We will see who will come out stronger in July.”
Last year, Roglič crashed out early, and it was Vingegaard who rose to the challenge.
The team is hopeful with both in top condition and a strong team backing them that Pogačar could be beaten, but Niermann was quick to add that Pogačar is the pre-race favorite.
“I think it’s more the team [to take on Pogačar]. They both can take on Pogačar if they are strong enough. We saw Jonas dropping Pogačar last year on a stage,” he said. “The belief is there on our side, but it’s also clear that Pogačar who has won in the past two years is the main favorite.”
Niermann is closely watching the action so far in the Critérium du Dauphiné, which opened with the team taking victory Sunday with Van Aert.
“Things are going well for us so far,” Niermann said. “We already had one stage win and it’s a shame we missed out on the win [Monday].
“I think Wout can almost do everything, but his main objective here at the Dauphiné is not the GC.
“We are in the right place,” he said. “We have a really strong team here and the boys were at an altitude camp. For now, things are going well, but the goal is to be in top shape in July, not now.”