Whenever the two leaders of the Dutch formation evoke the first week, the five stages of Denmark and the North of France, cut like classics, they use the same term: ” To survive. » Because for small sizes like Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard, it will above all be a question of arriving safely at the Planche des Belles Filles, on July 8, avoiding falls and wasting time. “Me, I don’t really like to use this word, to survive, smiled their sporting director Grischa Niermann. No, we are not afraid of this first week. The idea will be to drive up front and stay there, not think of it as a horror movie and not sleep at night. »
A carefully curated selection
Nobody wants to say too much on the subject, within Jumbo-Visma; however, this first week of the Tour, and in particular the cobblestone stage which will arrive in Arenberg on July 5, has been skilfully studied and the yellow and black armada intends to use it to put pressure on Tadej Pogacar, double winner of the Tour de France and “great favourite”, says Vingegaard. The selection has been carefully refined for this purpose and even modified recently to, in addition to Wout van Aert, a great specialist, add three other “Flanders” to surround the Slovenian and the Dane: Christophe Laporte, 2nd from Ghent-Wevelgem in March, and the Belgians Tiesj Benoot and Nathan Van Hooydonck. “We will have to place our leaders, shelter them from the wind and the edges”, explains Christophe Laporte. But also, even if they don’t announce it openly, they will try at the first opportunity to take time off Tadej Pogacar.
“We hope to come out of this eventful first week with Primoz (Roglic) and Jonas (Vingegaard) in a good position to compete with (Tadej) Pogacar”
The Lille-Arenberg stage was recognized twice by the riders, in November then in April; Roglic and Vingegaard took part in the Denain Grand Prix to try out the northern cobbles (the Slovenian, very comfortable, had been in the lead for a long time) and, above all, Niermann, very meticulous during the preparation of each stage, is went to see all the others in March: the two from Denmark, including the famous one on Saturday, where the Great Belt link and its two 17 km bridges, look like a scarecrow because of the wind that constantly blows there, but also those of Longwy and Calais, where it should fight hard.
“This is what led us to modify our selection compared to the six riders that we had announced in January (and to kick Australian Rohan Dennis out of the game) », explained the director of performance, Mathieu Heijboer, two weeks ago. This Wednesday, Wout van Aert added: “We hope to come out of this eventful first week with Primoz (Roglic) and Jonas (Vingegaard) in a good position to compete with (Tadej) Pogacar. We think it’s an advantage to have two leaders to succeed. »