“We are on the right way” said Wout Van Aert of Jumbo-Visma after he took home the green points jersey after the last stage at the Criterium du Dauphine, speaking of the team’s preparation head of the upcoming Tour de France, starting on July 1st.
Which could be considered an understatement. WVA’S teammate Primoz Roglic secured the overall victory with Jonas Vingegaard taking 2nd place. The same pair swapped that order at the finish line of Stage 8, with the Dane taking the win.
Jumbo-Visma is undeniably the strongest team in pro cycling at this moment, and the fashion in which the team seamlessly passed the Dauphine’s leader’s jersey from the shoulders of Van Aert to Roglic on the mountainous Stage 7 was hugely impressive… and somewhat ominous.
“The strength of the team is even a bigger advantage than in the last years,” said Van Aert, “and I believe this will be key in the Tour this year.”
Roglic is now a three-time winner of the Vuelta a Espana but at the Tour he has a rival that can ride without any real support, countryman and on-bike monster with that boy-next-door look, Tagej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
However there was a strong signal at the Dauphine that this year at the Tour things may well be different, and that came in the shape and indeed the form of Vingegaard. The 25-year old looked to be as good as Roglic in the mountains, and had he not been riding to team orders may well have pushed his teammate right to the line.
“Me and Primož are great friends,” Vingegaard said.
“We really like each other’s company – both with our families and us two together. We just have a great time together.
“We also care about each other. When Primož wins, I’m also super happy, and the other way around. There are no hard feelings if one of us wins.
“We’re both super good teammates that way. We are really happy when the other is doing great.”
When asked if he could win the Tour, he said:
“I do think I have a good chance. What really started the belief was that I was able to drop Pogačar on Mont Ventoux last year. Then with the development I’ve had this year and how it’s going so far. A lot of things can happen in the Tour.
“I’ll just do my best, the team will do their best, and we’ll see what the result will be.”
Jumbo-Visma will have to ride a very intelligent and co-ordinated race if they are to beat Pogacar, if he is in top form – as he usually is in July. The question to be asked is whether the team management will go for a two-leader strategy, or demand that Vingegaard ride for Roglic.
Memories of Wiggins and Froome in 2012 coming to the fore? Yep, same for me.
Wiggins said later on that “You have to be a real ruthless c**t as a cyclist. You become a horrible person at times.” Let’s hope these two don’t go down the same road!
ALL images courtesy of the Criterium du Dauphine.