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Roglic takes on Tour de France cobbles 'dress rehearsal' at GP Denain

Slovenian Primoz Roglic of JumboVisma crosses the finish line of the fifth stage of 80th edition of the ParisNice cycling race from SaintJustSaintRambert to SaintSauveurdeMontagut 1888 km in France Thursday 10 March 2022BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) at Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)

Thursday's GP Denain occupies a relatively minor place among spring's cobbled Classics, the 1.Pro race nestled in the days before the season's first Monument at Milan-San Remo and a week before the cobbles come to the WorldTour on the run-up to Flanders and Roubaix.

Big names like Arnaud Démare, Mathieu van der Poel, and Jasper Philipsen have scored early-spring victories in Denain in recent years, though this Thursday the race will welcome a handful of Tour de France contenders seeking to test the cobbles ahead of July.

Fresh from Paris-Nice, Adam Yates takes the start for Ineos Grenadiers, while race winner Primož Roglič is also taking part alongside lieutenant Jonas Vingegaard, who was runner-up at last year's Tour de France.

The trio will take on 19.4 kilometres of pavé across 12 sectors during the 200-kilometre race, with the peloton racing across six separate sectors in two laps around Denain. None of the sectors will feature on the all-important fifth stage of the Tour to Arenberg, though getting a feel for the cobbles will still be key for Roglič, Vingegaard, and Yates.

"We don't start here with the ambition to win," said Jumbo-Visma coach Grischa Niermann. "We do want to ride a good race and especially learn a lot from it.

"That's why we chose this race as a kind of dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, and Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič will be at the start together. It would be nice if we can get a good result on Thursday, but we particularly want to see how we can support Jonas and Roglič as well."

The race is set to offer the GC contenders a gentler introduction to the cobbles in comparison to the 30-plus sector Paris-Roubaix which, at 60 kilometres longer and with the start list packed with star Classics names.

Other major names set to ride include Classics specialists Niki Terpstra (TotalEnergies), Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën), and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), while sprinters Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) and Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) also line up.

"The race can also offer great opportunities for other riders on our team," added Niermann. "It it turns out to be a sprint we have, for example, David Dekker, who can show himself. The GP Denain is Lennard Hofstede's first race of the season, and he is eager to ride."

Mick van Dijke, Pascal Eenkhoorn and Timo Roosen round out Jumbo-Visma's seven-man squad for the race.

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