Kruijswijk out of the Tour - To target Giro Instead

Kruijswijk out of the Tour - To target Giro Instead

Co-leader Steven Kruijswijk, third at the Tour last year, suffered a dislocated shoulder and cut to his elbow after a crash on S4 of the Dauphiné.

As a result, the Dutch rider was in a race against time to recover in time for the Tour, and Jumbo-Visma will now be forced to call on a reserve rider, Zeeman said. Roglič, who also crashed and later abandoned, is doing better, having hurt his hip and suffered road rash.

"It will depend on the coming days," Zeeman had said about Kruijswijk. "Steven crashed really bad. He's still in a lot of pain, he has wounds and a pain in the shoulder. He's trying to train a little bit and look after his recovery, so we're in intense contact every day. I expect that at the weekend we'll make a decision about that.

"Primož is going well. Of course, he has to recover as well, but we're optimistic about his recovery.

"We have some riders on standby. This week we're looking at all the options and analysing how everyone's shape is. That's something we'll look after now for the coming week. We have some options and it's something we'll do internally, with respect to Steven and the riders who could replace him."

Climber and super-domestique Laurens De Plus, who has been linked with a move to Ineos for 2021, would normally step up in the case of a leader being forced out, but he's not among the riders on standby should Kruijwsijk be unable to make it, said Zeeman. 

"He hasn't recovered yet. He still has medical problems. He's slowly recovering but he's absolutely not ready to participate. He would be by far the best guy to come in but unfortunately, he's still recovering. We're hoping for him to be at the Giro but he's not ready to be at the Tour."

Zeeman on Ineos

So far, the 2020 season stand-outs have to be Jumbo-Visma.  They have made no secret of their intentions to topple Ineos, and have maneuvered themselves in a position to do so with some key line-up changes.

In the wake of Ineos' team decisions, Jumbo reacted with surprise, with directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman saying that the news was unexpected.

Before today, both teams were set to field a three-leader setup for the Tour, with Froome, Thomas and reigning champion Bernal to lead Ineos while Primoz Roglic, Steven Kruijswijk and Tom Dumoulin heading up Jumbo-Visma.

Zeeman said that the team expected the two Tour winners to form part of the leadership trio for what will then be known as the Ineos Grenadiers.

"No, it was a surprise for us.  Normally I would have expected that those guys would go.  But it's always difficult [to judge] from a distance because you never know what kind of performance plan is behind the preparation. Every team has their own approach”

"Also for us, we didn't take too many conclusions from the Dauphiné because you never know what the big plan is behind a strategy. It's also possible that they have a plan already. So, it will be exciting. We'll have to see now."

With two current Grand Tour champions on the Ineos roster, a rising GC star in Sivakov, and a number of top domestiques, the Ineos squad barely looks any weaker for the exclusion of Froome and Thomas – if at all.  Zeeman held the same view, hailing the strength in depth of the British team.

"Normally I would always say that they're not stronger because these two guys are world-class riders, but it's Ineos and they have such strong depth in their squad that they can bring the Giro d'Italia winner who normally wouldn't go to the Tour. So, I think they have a very strong team," 

"Their replacements for Froome and Thomas are impressive riders, but of course it was also a surprise obviously. In these times after the Corona outbreak, every team is making plans in the winter, but it's clear in the end that it's decided one week before the Tour de France.  Anything can happen during all the parts of preparation.

"They've made their choice and I believe they're such a big squad with very strong riders that I think they have a very strong team. They're able to fight for yellow with these guys.”

Zeeman said that the changes will certainly change the dynamics of the race and strategies used. The Dutchman said that Ineos will likely now be more focused on Bernal's chances rather than a shared leadership. Sivakov, after all, has only raced one Grand Tour during his career, finishing ninth at last year's Giro, while Carapaz is presumed to have been training to peak at this year's Giro.

"It depends on the strategy, of course. Normally we were prepared for an opponent with a trident strategy as well but now probably it will be more focussed on Bernal. Of course, that changes something in the strategy.

"First, we have to see exactly how they race. They will not tell us, but it depends on the role of Sivakov and Carapaz. Is it all-in for Bernal or do they have plans to race with more leaders, a more open strategy?  It's something we'll see during the race, I guess."

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