Dylan Groenewegen will return to racing at the Giro d’Italia and not the Tour of Hungary as originally planned. Jumbo-Visma have confirmed the participation of the Dutch sprinter, who is looking to restart his career after a nine-month ban for sparking Fabio Jakobsen's crash at the Tour de Pologne last summer.
Groenewegen’s ban ends on May 7 and the Giro d’Italia begins a day later in Turin. He will replace Chris Harper who is struggling with an eye condition.
“Dylan is one of our leaders, but he has not been able to race for a long time due to his long suspension,” directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman explained.
“We had mapped out a nice program for him that would allow him to return to the peloton in the shadows. However, due to corona, the Tour of Norway has already been postponed and it remains to be seen whether the other races he would ride will remain on the calendar. With this solution we opt for more certainty, because after nine months without racing it is the intention for Dylan to return to competition.”
Groenewegen was widely condemned for squeezing Jakobsen towards the flimsy roadside barriers at 80km/h in the Tour de Pologne sprint. Jakobsen suffered serious facial injuries but has made a successful recovery and raced for the first time at the recent Tour of Turkey.
“I have received many heart warming messages after all that has happened, but I am also taking into account some negative reactions on my return. That might happen anyway”, Groenewegen said.
“I have spoken with Fabio before he went to Turkey and it was good to see how well he did there. I am very much looking forward to racing again myself too now and I am glad that I can do that in a beautiful race like the Giro d’Italia.”
Jumbo-Visma confirmed that Groenewegen will ride the Giro d’Italia alongside team leader and overall contender George Bennett, time triallists Jos van Emden and Eduardo Affini, talented young sprinter David Dekker, Paul Martens, Koen Bouwman and Tobias Fos.
Groenewegen has won 53 races during his career and was considered one of fastest and best finishers among his sprinting peers. The Jakobsen crash has changed Groenewegen’s character and career, and he has also recently become a father. He will start the Giro d’Italia with little ambition, while the Jumbo-Visma team hopes he will be given a second chance after tension with Deceunick-QuickStep and anonymous threats to him and his family.
“Dylan has worked hard for his return but he has no race rhythm and he will have to find his place in the peloton after everything that happened. That is now the priority,” Zeeman said.
“With David Dekker we have another fast man in the team, so we have several options for different situations.
“It is great that Fabio Jakobsen has made a good return in Turkey. Now that Dylan has served his suspension, it is hoped that the same will apply to him soon. That’s the most important thing now. I hope everyone will give him that chance.”
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