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The Dutch superteam roars into this weekend’s mountain stages poised to see one of its riders etched onto the winner’s list.
Primož Roglič leads Jumbo-Visma’s triple threat in the decisive weekend across the French Alps.
“For me it’s coming back to the rhythm, today will be a hard day, and I will do my best,” Roglič said at the start. “We are super-strong team, we are three of our guys are in the GC, that makes us stronger together on the whole team, and we can always profit from each other.”
The trio of Roglič, Wout van Aert, and Jonas Vingegaard are stacked up on GC ahead of Saturday’s summit finish high in the French Alps with everything to gain at the Dauphiné.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s summit finales will crown the 2022 winner, and set the tone of Jumbo-Visma going into the Tour de France next month.
Jumbo-Visma came into this Dauphiné with a core group of riders heading to the Tour.
The team’s dominated so far, with Van Aert winning two stages and carrying the yellow jersey into this weekend.
Van Aert already said “another race begins Saturday,” and said he will likely pass off the yellow, ideally to one of his teammates.
“I think my role will be a helping role from today on, but it depends on how the race develops,” Van Aert said at the start. “We have some strong guys to do the first part of the work, and in the final, if I have something left, maybe I can keep the jersey, but the goal now is to help Primož and Jonas.”
Wout van Aert: ‘We will go for the win’
With the team flying high, the Dauphiné crown could finally be within the team’s grasp.
“The main goal before coming here was not to win at all cost, but the idea was to go all out to get better for the Tour de France from this race,” Van Aert said. “And the high position on GC will come automatically, and we are here on the last weekend, so we will go for the win.”
The success is already pumping up the confidence inside the Jumbo-Visma bus heading toward Denmark next month for the start of the Tour.
First comes this weekend’s pair of climbing stages high in the French Alps.
Jumbo-Visma has never won Dauphiné, and after coming close in recent editions, the team is keen to finish off the deal.
Van Aert leads Mattia Cattaneo (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) by 1:03, with Roglič in third at 1:06 and Vingegaard in fifth at 1:36 back.
Some riders have commented that Vingegaard is looking stronger than Roglič, but the Slovenian is best positioned to take over the lead coming into Vaujany.
Sunday’s even more challenging stage, with the HC summit finish at Plateau de Salaison should decide everything.
“It’s been good so far. Hopefully I can move up a fair few places and see if we can fight for the win or not,” Ben O’Connor said at the start.
The Dauphiné often serves up surprises, with the bunch splitting up fast and early in the mountains, but O’Connor said the big climbs at the Galibier and Croix-de-Fer will likely tamp things down Saturday.
“I don’t think today you can try anything too crazy. The descent is too long and I think the final stage is more open to something more super aggressive,” O’Connor said. “It will come down to Vaujany, it will be hard enough.
“You have to be pretty bold to try something beforehand today. There won’t be many guys lefts in the peloton over the Croix-de-Fer anyway.”
Roglič, who won his first career Tour stage in 2017 near the start of Saturday’s stage, said it will come down to who has the legs.
“We have to see how many guys are there in the end. It’s a hard climb and we just need to race,” Roglič said. “Today will be super-hard, but we will try to enjoy it.”