After the so-called 'killer wasps' of last year's pre-Tour de France build up, Jumbo-Visma have been a quieter force in the peloton this time around. With the two star names of Primož Roglič and Wout van Aert having not raced since April, the Dutch squad is certainly less hyped than it was back in 2020.
Even so, they are still as strong as ever, with almost all their big names heading to Brest next week for another shot at Tour glory. This time there's no broken shoulder for Steven Kruijwsijk, and no knee injury for Mike Teunissen.
All the major climbing names and road captains form part of the squad, barring Tom Dumoulin, who will target the Olympics after taking several months away from racing at the start of 2021, and George Bennett, who raced the Giro d'Italia.
Bennett's absence is one of only two changes from the 2020 squad, along with Amund Grøndahl Jansen, who moved to BikeExchange in the winter. Talented all-rounder Jonas Vingegaard makes his debut in the team, one which otherwise has 34 Tour appearances between its riders.
Sepp Kuss, Robert Gesink and Tony Martin complete the team, which looks to once again be among the strongest at the race, and one of a vanishingly small group of squads who can claim to match up to the strength of Ineos Grenadiers. Read on for our analysis of Jumbo-Visma's 2021 Tour de France squad.
- Age: 31
- Tours raced: Third
- Best result: Second in 2020, three stage wins
For the third time, the Slovenian heads up Jumbo-Visma's Tour de France squad with the yellow jersey in his sights. Last year, he was the number one favourite for success at the delayed race, though this time around he'll share that status with his compatriot, and the only man who could best him, Tadej Pogačar.
While last summer we knew that Roglič was in top form after winning a stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné and crashing out of the race lead, this time his status is basically a total unknown. The 31-year-old hasn't raced at all since Liège-Bastogne-Liège back in late April, so there's obviously no way to gauge his form ahead of the race start in Brest.
He did, of course, win three stages at Paris-Nice and the overall at Itzulia Basque Country earlier in the season, so we know what kind of level to expect when he does return to the peloton. There is the 'issue' that riders who miss the traditional pre-Tour warm-up races don't tend to win in July, though that's because Tour contenders usually race them.
Once again, it looks like Pogačar will be Roglič's main competition in July, though once again the Dutch squad look stronger than UAE Team Emirates. As well as battling the 22-year-old and the assembled might of Ineos, Roglič will also hope to avoid the end-of-race fades he has tended towards, most notably in that devastating final time trial last year.
- Age: 26
- Tours raced: Two
- Best result: 20th in 2020, two stage wins
The Belgian, Jumbo-Visma's second leader, is another rider who hasn't been in action for over two months. Van Aert's photo finish victory at Amstel Gold Race back in mid-April was his last race, so, like Roglič, we have little idea about his form ahead of the Tour.
Van Aert, of course, put in a star turn at last year's race, winning two sprint stages and playing an astonishing turn as a mountain domestique en route to a top 20 finish that nobody had expected.
This year, he looked all set to fight for the yellow jersey over the opening two stages uphill finishes in Brittany, but he has tempered expectations in the build-up to the race after an appendectomy in late May and resulting loss of training time.
Still, even if an early yellow jersey is a less likely prospect than it once was, if Van Aert can reach top form during the opening week – ahead of the visit to the Alps on stages 8 and 9 – he can once again be a real contributor when the road angles up.
A green jersey bid looks less likely though, even with eight flat sprint stages on the menu. Van Aert certainly has the talent and speed for it, but the combination of working for Roglič, and the loss of training following the recovery from his appendectomy make that look a distant prospect this July.
- Age: 34
- Tours raced: Five
- Best result: Third in 2019
Last year, Kruijswijk was set to be part of a leadership triumvirate alongside Roglič and Dumoulin, and the year before he was a team leader on the podium in Paris. In 2021, the 34-year-old will certainly be fully committed to working for the Slovenian.
Kruijswijk is part of the squad which the team locked in all the way back in January, though since then his results haven't been at all eye-catching. 29th at Paris-Nice, 22nd in Catalunya, 21st at Romandie and 15th at the Dauphiné are his 2021 results so far, a far cry from third at Andalucía, fifth at Catalunya and sixth at Romandie two years ago.
Still, the Dutchman will be a vital part of Roglič's support squad and will certainly be one of the final men left with the team leaders in the high mountains, if not the last man. He would likely be the rider to step up should anything befall Roglič, though you would sense that the ambition would be a top 10 finish rather than a repeat of his 2019 podium.
- Age: 26
- Tours raced: One
- Best result: 15th in 2020
Kuss' stock has only risen since this time last year, with the Coloradan having moved from taking a stage win and top 10 at the Dauphiné to playing a key role in Roglič's second place at the Tour and then his second victory at the Vuelta a España weeks later.
This year he looks to be bang in form for the Tour once again, too. The pure climber's value won't become fully apparent until around the midway point of the race, but sixth-placed finishes on two of the final trio of mountain stages at the Dauphiné showed he's back near his best.
Kuss' value to the team is so high that he was confirmed in the Tour squad months ago and it wouldn't be a surprise if he was one of the only non-Ineos domestiques left in the GC group before the main contenders start to attack.
The Tour will be the fifth Kuss has raced alongside Roglič, joining Kruijswijk (fifth), Martin (sixth), and Gesink (sixth) as an experienced and well-gelled team around the leader. Whatever problems Jumbo-Visma encounter at the Tour, a lack of communication or understanding shouldn't be among them.
- Age: 24
- Tours raced: 0
- Best result: N/A
Vingegaard is the only man on the team who wasn't part of the squad announced back in January. The 24-year-old comes in for Dumoulin, who was originally down for the Tour before his layoff.
The Dane is an exciting young rider who turned pro with Jumbo-Visma in 2019, making his Grand Tour debut at last year's Vuelta. This year he has a summit stage win at the UAE Tour to his name along with two stages and the overall at Coppi e Bartali. A fantastic spring was capped by taking second behind Roglič at Itzulia.
He's in good form now, too, having finished seventh in the Dauphiné time trial and taken second at the final summit finish at Les Gets. He'll get precious few chances, if any, to ride for himself at the Tour, but he could very well be a key cog in the Roglič machine. Big things lie in wait for Vingegaard.
- Age: 35
- Tours raced: Nine
- Best result: Fourth in 2010
Gesink is one of the two main road captains on this experienced team, with half the squad aged over 30. With nine Tours under his belt, he's the second-most experienced man on the team and a key support rider for the mountains.
He was once a Grand Tour contender himself, of course, with five top 10 finishes under his belt, but is now comfortable in that mountain domestique role. He's not as strong a climber as the likes of Kuss or Kruijswijk anymore, but his knowledge – and his pacesetting – are still invaluable.
- Age: 36
- Tours raced: 12
- Best result: 35th in 2009, five stage wins
The four-time world time trial champion has transitioned almost exclusively into a domestique role since joining Jumbo-Visma back in 2019. The German veteran is a rival to Deceuninck-QuickStep's Tim Declercq for time spent on the front of the peloton, spending hours doing the less glamourous work of leading the way and regulating the gap to the break.
Every GC-focussed team needs an 'engine room' of a rider like Martin, someone who is happy to control the race situation for hours on end. Thanks to the UCI's new rules on riding positions, he won't be powering along with his arms draped over the bars as he was last year, but he'll be up there on the front, of that there is no doubt.
- Age: 28
- Tours raced: Two
- Best result: One stage win
The Dutchman missed last year's Tour thanks to a knee injury sustained in a crash at a July training camp, but he's back this time around, two years on from the stage victory in Brussels which saw him wear yellow for two days.
He comes back with just 13 days of racing in his legs across the Tours of Hungary and Romandie, having suffered another season-altering crash at a training camp in February. He was announced for the Tour squad the month before, and is another threat for the sprints alongside Van Aert – two fastmen being a vanishingly rare sight in modern, GC-focussed squads.
Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in August 2019 after working as a freelance journalist for seven years, including time spent working for Cyclingnews and sister magazine, Procycling.
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