Rohan Dennis could make his long-awaited return to the Tour de France next year after Jumbo-Visma confirmed that he was in contention for a starting spot among their eight-man roster.
Dennis is set to ride for Jumbo-Visma, signing a two-year contract with the Dutch team after leaving Ineos Grenadiers. Jumbo-Visma typically announces their Tour de France roster in December and despite having not yet pushed a pedal for the team Dennis could form part of an eight-man squad that is likely to include Primož Roglič, Jonas Vingegaard, and Wout van Aert.
Dennis hasn’t ridden the Tour de France since he abandoned mid-race in 2019 under controversial circumstances during his time at Bahrain-McLaren. He has spent the last two seasons at Ineos Grenadiers and proved to be a vital rider in Tao Geoghegan Hart’s Giro d’Italia win in 2020, while he also has a yellow jersey and four Grand Tour stage wins to his name.
With Tony Martin retiring at the end of the season the Jumbo-Visma management see Dennis as a possible contender to fill the void left by the German rider who often controlled the Tour peloton on the flat stage. Dennis, a capable climber, could also provide cover in the mountains, and with two time trials in the race the Australian would have the possibility of targeting another yellow jersey and the final time trial on the penultimate day of the race. He has only finished the Tour once in his career but his qualities as a bike rider mean that he’s at least in the conversation for a Tour spot.
“Last week Rohan was with the team for the first time and he was with the head of performance at the wind tunnel. That was nice to see and to talk to him for the first time. We want to get to know him a little bit better, and to hear what his own preferences are,” Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman told Cyclingnews.
“For the Tour, he has a big chance to go there, but we have a very strong squad with a lot of candidates. It’s obvious that our ambition is that Rohan becomes a key player of the team and that he’s in the biggest races for us. For sure his participation at the Tour is a topic that’s on the table.”
Dennis’ qualities on the bike have never been in doubt but one of the key challenges will be picking the right targets for the 31-year-old during the upcoming season. There are a number of week-long stage races for the rider to target while the home-nation Road World Championships in September are also likely to sit high on his hit list. Zeeman believes that the rider can dovetail his personal goals with the needs of the team.
“The original plan is still the same and for Rohan that involves a combination of races where he will be a very important helper for the leaders but he will also get his own chances of leadership. He also has the World Championships in Australia, which are a big goal for Rohan. We want to give him a balanced programme that will see him take on both roles and be important for the team. I’ve seen that a race like Catalunya doesn’t have a time trial, which is a pity because normally that would be a race for him. We want to create the best possible programme for him.”
The Jumbo-Visma management are currently formulating their plans and line-ups for next year. Tom Dumoulin is in line for a Grand Tour leadership role of some sort, while the team are also likely to give Van Aert greater freedom in the Tour. According to Zeeman several riders have voiced their hopes in leading the team at the Giro d’Italia in May but at this point none of the key decisions have been made.
“We’re discussing plans with all the riders and as you can imagine it’s a big puzzle with a lot of work in order to have the right team goals. We look at the ambitions of each rider and the team. A lot of people think the winter is a quiet time but it’s still full gas,” he said.
“We have proposal on the team this week and then next week we will talk to all our coaches to have their opinions. Then in December we discuss it with the riders because a big part of this plan is about commitment."
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