Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman has told Cyclingnews that finding a way to beat Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is the biggest challenge the Dutch team and their rivals face for the coming years.
For the second year running Jumbo-Visma posted a rider in second spot at the Tour de France as Pogačar claimed back-to-back yellow jerseys. At just 22, Pogačar looks capable of dominating the Tour de France for years to come, but Jumbo-Visma are determined to return in 2022 with Primož Roglič as their leader when they look to win their first Tour.
Jonas Vingegaard, a surprise second in this year’s Tour de France, is ready for Grand Tour leadership, according to Zeeman, and will be pushing for another Tour start with the race set to start in his native Denmark next summer.
“It’s too early to say what Jonas’ schedule is for next year but let it be clear that we already believed in him and that’s why we extended his contract and why we gave him the high potential programme in order to develop him as a leader. He was the leader in Coppi e Bartai and he was the shadow leader in Pais Basque behind Roglič and now he continues to develop. For us he’s an important GC option now,” Zeeman told Cyclingnews.
As is typically the case, Jumbo-Visma will use the off-season to reflect and rebuild for next year. They bounced back at the Tour after losing Roglič in a crash to win several stages and to place Vingegaard on the podium. Those results demonstrated the team’s versatility and depth, with Wout van Aert also taking a hat-trick of stages, and Sepp Kuss stepping up with a win of his own on the stage to Andorra.
With time trial powerhouse Rohan Dennis set to join in the coming weeks as George Bennett leaves for pastures new, the team will need to decide on their Tour plans once the final route is out in October.
The certainty at this point is that Roglič, the new Olympic time trial champion, will return as the team’s main leader next season. The team will need to decide if they stack their Tour line up with most of their GC talents or look to dilute them across the Tour, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España.
“We evaluate after the season and we make plans together with the riders. It’s clear that Jonas will be one of the GC leaders for us in the coming years. We all know that the Tour de France starts in Denmark next year so we know what Grand Tour he’ll want to be in. We need to find a way of beating Pogačar and that’s the biggest challenge for the coming years," Zeeman added.
"Primož is the big leader of our team. We saw in the Olympics what he can do so I’m 100 per cent sure that his ambition is to win yellow and there’s no doubt that he will want to fight for that in the coming years.”
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