Tour de France sprinter Dylan Groenewegen has opened the door for Marcel Kittel to join him at Jumbo-Visma, but made it clear that if the German does arrive at the team at the start of the 2020 season, he fully expects the former Katusha-Alpecin rider to act as a secondary sprinter.
Kittel agreed to have his contract torn up at Katusha-Alpecin earlier this year after a dreadful 18-month period with the team that netted just a handful of wins. He is currently taking a sabbatical from professional cycling, but in June Cyclingnews confirmed that Jumbo-Visma had talked to the German about a possible return next season. The team made it clear during that time that Groenewegen would remain as their top-tier sprinter but that Kittel could become a second option either at alternative WorldTour events or at slightly smaller races.
At the teams' presentation at the Tour de France in Brussels, where Groenewegen will be looking to add to his collection of three Tour stage wins from the last two seasons, he echoed his team's sentiments in regards to Kittel.
"He's a really big rider, a really good rider, who has won a lot of stages. I think he's a really good man," he said.
When ask if there was room for another elite-level sprinter on the Dutch team, Groenewegen replied: "Not in my sprint train, of course, but in every team you need a second sprinter. Maybe that's Marcel Kittel, but we'll have to see."
In June, Jumbo-Visma's director Merijn Zeeman made it clear that both Groenewegen and Kittel could co-exist on the same team. He told Cyclingnews: "It's clear that Dylan is our leader and there's no doubt about that. Over the coming years, he is our man, but every team wants to win as much as possible and Marcel can play a role in that. That can be a good thing for his balance and it's totally open," he said.
"Dylan would be our sprinter for the biggest races – that's 100 per cent clear. Marcel wouldn't be a lead-out rider – that's a different job – but if you look at the WorldTour, there's enough opportunity to still do high-quality and beautiful races. Now we go to many races without a sprinter – for example, the Tour de Suisse. It's a very big race, but we could use a sprinter there."
Groenewegen arrives at the Tour de France with his tail up after a strong start to this year's campaign. The 26-year-old has won ten times already since the start of the season and has at least one victory in every stage race that he has started. He is arguably the favourite for Sunday's opening sprint stage in Brussels.
"I hope that I can win the first stage," he added. "The yellow jersey makes it a big bonus, and I'll try. We have a very good team and I'm in very good shape.
"With Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan, there are others that are very strong. We'll see. I feel really good and I'm really strong with a strong team behind me," said Groenewegen.