George Bennett will lead the LottoNL-Jumbo team at the Vuelta a Espana later this month with Steven Kruijswijk also set to target the overall classification for the Dutch squad. While the main priority will be the GC, the team also brings Danny van Poppel as they hunt for stage wins in the sprints.
Tom Leezer, Lars Boom, Floris De Tier, Bert-Jan Lindeman and Sepp Kuss will complete the line-up. Kuss is making his Grand Tour debut after taking a commanding victory at the Tour of Utah earlier this month.
Bennett and Kruijswijk come into the Vuelta a Espana with very different preparation. Bennett took a mid-season break after riding the Giro d’Italia, while Kruijswijk has had a quick turnaround following the Tour de France. Bennett finished eighth overall at the Giro d’Italia but was hampered by mechanical issues at key moments. The New Zealander returned to racing at the Tour de Pologne earlier this month, finishing fourth overall at 24 seconds behind the race winner Michal Kwiatkowski.
Kruijswijk was one of two leaders for the team at the Tour de France last month, alongside Primoz Roglic. The pair enjoyed a strong three weeks with Kruijswijk enjoying a career-best fifth place while Roglic finished fourth. The team has given Kruijswijk an altered training plan in the four weeks between the two races and believe he’s ready for his second consecutive Grand Tour.
“We made our selection at a very early stage. In the winter we already knew who was going to ride there. We had a good altitude training camp in Kuhtai,” said directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman. “We’ve been able to train well, prepare ourselves well.
“The leader for the general classification will be George Bennett, but also Steven Kruijswijk, who’ll take his good form from the Tour with him. We have to make some adjustments in his training here and there but he’ll participate. He’s in good shape and he has ambitions for the general classification.”
Like Bennett, Van Poppel rode the Giro d’Italia earlier this season. He came close to victory on a number of stages, finishing in the top five on five occasions. He raced through June, until the national championships where he finished second to Mathieu van der Poel. Following a short break in July, he was back racing at the Tour de Pologne. He will have two support riders at his disposal throughout the Vuelta.
“Danny van Poppel is going to ride his second Grand Tour of the year. We’re working on a sprint project around him,” said Zeeman. “He’ll be supported by Tom Leezer and Lars Boom. He will have every opportunity to start sprinting again.”
LottoNL-Jumbo for the Vuelta a Espana: George Bennett, Steven Kruijswijk, Danny van Poppel, Tom Leezer, Lars Boom, Floris De Tier, Bert-Jan Lindeman and Sepp Kuss.
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