Despite being named as part of AG2R Citroen’s initial plans for the Tour de France, Bob Jungels has been forced to miss the race and take a break, with the 2018
2018 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner set for iliac artery surgery in the coming days due to endofibrosis.
The 28-year-old will also miss the Luxembourg national time trial and road race championships, and the Tokyo Olympic Games. Greg van Avermaet, Oliver Naesen, Benoît Cosnefroy and Ben O'Connor are due to lead AG2R Citroen at the Tour de France.
"It is a huge disappointment to have to give up the Tour de France which would have been my first time there with the AG2R Citroen team, as well as my national championships and the Olympic Games,” Jungels said.
“I had a difficult start to the season physically but also mentally because I was keen to shine, but I was never at the level I wanted to be.
"At the Tour de Suisse, I was very happy with my 18th place in the time trial on the first stage. Then the pain that I had felt for several years when I was pushing hard came back steadily.
"Medical examinations confirmed the diagnosis I was anticipating. On the one hand, I am relieved because I now know why my performances have been irregular for three seasons, on the other hand it is a huge disappointment.
"I thank the staff and the riders of the AG2R Citroen for their support. I will be their number 1 fan on the roads of the Tour de France… while waiting to find my place in the peloton again as quickly as possible.” Jungels moved to the French team after spending five years at Patrick Lefevere’s QuickStep squad. A winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and with two top-ten GC rides in the Giro d’Italia, he had built a career as a rider as comfortable on the cobbles of Flanders as much as the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites.
However, he has struggled recently for results and consistency.
“The first tests showed that it could be a vascular abnormality called arterial endofibrosis affecting the iliac artery. The decision to have surgery should be taken in the coming days," said Eric Bouvat, the medical director at AG2R.
Team manager Vincent Lavenu shared his sympathy for Jungels and stressed that he fully expected his rider to return to full fitness and form once he had recovered.
“I am sorry and sad for Bob who is a champion whose normal level we know well, in addition to his sporting and human qualities. We were looking forward to hitting the roads of the Tour de France with him.
"He has been experiencing physical difficulties since the start of the season and now we know how to fix it. I am convinced that once rid of these worries, he will perform well with the AG2R Citroen team."
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