Wout van Aert has made the case for dedicated support in his bid for the Tour de France green points jersey, highlighting the strengths of Christophe Laporte as Jumbo-Visma management ponder their final eight-rider line-up
The team’s decision to open their selection up to a longlist of 11 riders has caused a stir and talk of a race for places. Rather than doubts about specific riders, it is an insurance policy against COVID-19 cases or other forms of injury or illness. Barring any dramatic turns of form, the squad is largely set.
Van Aert (opens in new tab) is one of three guaranteed Jumbo-Visma starters, along with Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard, who will share leadership as they take on Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) for overall victory at the Tour de France. (opens in new tab)
Team director Meirjn Zeeman has indicated that three more names are almost sure of selection: Rohan Dennis, Sepp Kuss, and Steven Kruijswijk.
Both Kruijswijk and Kuss have brushed off any doubts over their places in recent days, both indicating they have nothing to prove. Kruijswijk put his Tour de France selection beyond reasonable doubt by shredding the GC field on the final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Kuss is riding the Tour de Suisse.
Dennis is said to be overcoming stomach problems at the Tour de Suisse but, if fit, his horsepower on the flat as well as in the mountains – as he showed in setting up Tao Geoghegan Hart’s 2020 Giro victory – make him a sure bet.
That would leave two spots, with five riders in the frame: Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Robert Gesink, Mike Teunissen and Nathan van Hooydonck.
It’s the former two who look most likely to complete the line-up. The latter two’s chances took a hit when they contracted COVID-19 at the recent Tour of Norway. Meanwhile, Gesink could be a victim of the new-found focus on the green jersey.
“Having someone who takes care of me going into intermediate sprints and bunch sprints is important, I guess,” Van Aert told reporters, including Cyclingnews, after sealing the green jersey at the Dauphiné.
Van Aert had already sung the praises of Benoot earlier in the week, highlighting the Belgian’s versatility and ability to contribute to both the yellow and green jersey bids.
After the Dauphiné, he made a similar case for Laporte, who could also act as a lead-out man and looks to be favoured over Teunissen as it stands.
“Here and at other races we’ve shown we have some versatile riders. Not only me but a guy like Christophe, he’s with the last 50 guys if it goes uphill but is also one of the fastest in a bunch sprint,” Van Aert said.
“We can use guys like him on every terrain. And with the course like we have at the Tour this year we will definitely need that.”
The Critérium du Dauphiné was something of an acid test for the Tour, in terms of Jumbo-Visma targeting both yellow and green.
Despite appearing a little stretched in the chase on a couple of the reduced sprint stages, the outcome was emphatic as Roglič and Vingegaard finished one-two on GC while Van Aert won two stages and sailed away with the green jersey.
“It gives a lot of confidence to finish off the week in the Dauphiné like this. In my opinion it’s one of the hardest stage races of the year. We’re in a good place,” Van Aert said.
“The strength of the team is an even bigger advantage than in previous years. This will be key for the Tour.”