Dylan Groenewegen come back in Giro

Team Jumbo-Visma has announced the final roster for the Giro d’Italia with the most notable name on the roster being the return of Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo Visma).

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Dylan Groenewegen come back in Giro

The nine-month suspension of the Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo Visma) comes to an end on May 7th, just one day before the Giro starts in Turin with a time trial of nine kilometres. The team further consists of George Bennett, Edoardo Affini, Koen Bouwman, David Dekker, Jos van Emden, Tobias Foss and Paul Martens.

Initially, Chris Harper was on the start list for Team Jumbo-Visma. Because the Australian is struggling with an eye condition, his place became vacant in the selection. “We have decided that his place will go to Dylan”, explains Merijn Zeeman, the sportive director of the team.

“Dylan is one of our leaders, but he has not been able to race for a long time due to his long suspension. We had mapped out a nice program for him that would allow him to return to the peloton in the shadows. However, due to corona, the Tour of Norway has already been postponed and it remains to be seen whether the other races he would ride will remain on the calendar. With this solution we opt for more certainty, because after nine months without racing it is the intention for Dylan to return to competition.”

Zeeman does not comment on the sporting ambitions of the four-time stage winner of the Tour de France. “Dylan has worked hard for his return, but he has no race rhythm and he will have to find his place in the peloton after everything that happened. That is now the priority. With David Dekker, we have another fast man in the team, so we have several options for different situations. It is great that Fabio Jakobsen has made a good return in Turkey. Now that Dylan has served his suspension, it is hoped that the same will apply to him soon. That’s the most important thing now. I hope everyone will give him that chance.”

Groenewegen was suspended for his role in the heavy crash in the Tour of Poland last year. Jakobsen in particular was seriously injured. “I have received many heart warming messages after all that has happened, but I am also taking into account some negative reactions on my return. That might happen anyway”, Groenewegen says. “I have spoken with Fabio before he went to Turkey and it was good to see how well he did there. I am very much looking forward to racing again myself too now and I am glad that I can do that in a beautiful race like the Giro d’Italia.”

Wielerflits Interview
Groenewegen’s suspension ends next Friday for his part in the major crash in the Tour of Poland. A day later, on Saturday 8 May, the Jumbo-Visma sprinter is already making his comeback in the Giro d’Italia, a comeback that will see him in the spotlight.

Groenewegen “That is something we did not opt for at first. The plan was to start slowly, but the disadvantage of this at this time is that the planned events are dropped one by one. The Tour of Norway has already been cancelled, leaving only the Tour of Hungary for the month of May. It was a difficult choice to go to the Giro, because of course I haven’t raced for a long time. I think it is also better for me to have several racing days.”

“Physically, I am certainly ready. The last few weeks I have been able to train well. My level is good. The question is how things go mentally in the race, how I react to the peloton and how the peloton reacts to me. Those are questions to which I do not yet have an answer. We will see that in the race.”

Asked what his expectations are in the Giro d’Italia, Groenewegen replies “to perform well is always there. The main thing is to regain pleasure in racing again. I just need to enjoy it again and feel that on the road with the boys again. Since I have known that I can ride the Giro, I have really been working hard to be as good as possible. I’ve spoken to all the guys and they are thrilled that I am coming along, and they are convinced that I will find the right legs there again.”

“Will that be the first week, the second week or the third week? If it is in the third week, it will not be of much use to me, but then that week is used gain deth in my fitness”

Is Groenewegen prepared for negative reactions in the peloton? “I don’t think it will get any worse than what I’ve been through in recent months. I am certainly ready. We know there can be negative reactions. Certainly immediately after the incident in Poland, it was chaos. Then my life was turned upside down for a while. Soon after, the team engaged a psychologist with whom I talked a lot. That worked very well.”

“As the days and weeks progressed, opinions turned slightly, and I also received a lot of messages from riders and colleagues. That did something to me.”

On how he expects to feel in the peloton, Groenewegen explains “if you’ve been out for such a long time, especially as a sprinter, then there are a lot more things to consider than just being physically good. Especially as a sprinter, you have to be able to deal with the stress in the peloton again. How will my timing be in the sprint? I can do a good sprint here, can I win … But in the peloton there is a lot more to it.”

Asked how his relationship is with Fabio Jakobsen, Groenewegen says “the first contact was with his father. About two weeks after the fall in Poland, when it became known that he was out of danger, I messaged his father out of interest. There was a positive response, for which I was very grateful. As the months passed, I also sent messages to Fabio. Understandably, I did not immediately get a response, but that came later. Just before the Tour of Turkey, we even had a conversation in a room in Amsterdam. We both got to vent there. It was a very pleasant conversation for both.”

“What exactly was discussed there, I prefer to keep between us. The main thing is that Fabio will be back in the races. That has now happened and that is very nice for him and for me. It also makes it a little easier for him to talk to me. As sportsmen, we are now looking ahead again. ”

Will his fall in the same sprint make him a different rider in sprints? “There is only one way to find out. That is by racing again and daring to be in the mix in the sprints again. We have to wait until the Giro to see how that will be. At first I couldn’t watch a race on television. The first thing I looked at are fragments of the Tour de France. Watching the whole stage was really too difficult for me at the time. We are in an app group with the whole team and there you read from time to time that it went very well and so I could not resist turning on the TV for a short time but those were the mountain stages.”

Asked will he ever be able to put this incident from Poland behind him, the reply from Groenewegen is “I do not think so. This will always stay with us. In the beginning, I thought about it all day, non-stop. I also heard the bang from the crash all day long. If I even heard a bang, it was a bit of a shock. In Spain, a car honked loudly recently… I was shocked but it turned out to be just some one very enthusiastic”.

On his UCI suspension, he was asked does he feel he was punished for the consequences for Jakobsen?
“That is a difficult question. I was punished… Whether that happened only for my movements, or also for the consequences? I will leave that for others to decide, I do not know exactly. It is hoped that they (the UCI) Will be more consistent in the future. The UCI has to pay attention to several things, such as the barriers and downhill finishes where we sprint at speeds of 90 kilometers per hour.”

“If there are wrong movements, they should be penalized immediately. Everyone knows then: this is unacceptable. Otherwise, the ‘edge’ is always pushed back. And unfortunately we have seen what can happen. I have accepted my punishment.”

The final question is whether Groenewegen will be able to celebrate as exhuberantly as before? “That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. I do not know. When you pass the finish it is always adrenaline that comes with it. I especially hope that I will experience it again soon. How do I react? I know that it will be a very emotional moment, 100% for sure.”



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