Jumbo-Visma sees ‘worrying’ training setback at Tour de France with COVID exit from Tour de Suisse
A torrent of COVID cases throws a wrench into finely tuned Tour de France training plans.
Tour leader Jumbo-Visma and yellow jersey contenders Adam Yates and Aleksandr Vlasov are among those who have retired from racing at the Tour of Slovenia and Tour of Switzerland.
Jumbo-Visma captains Wout van Aert, Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard dodged the COVID curse by racing in France last week.
However high servants including Sepp Kuss, Rohan Dennis and Robert Gesink all miss crucial racing efforts weeks before July 1 Great departure.
“Part of their preparation for the Tour was to ride those longer high intensity Tour de Suisse climbs and a long high intensity time trial. So it’s a big loss, to be honest,” said Jumbo-Visma coach Mathieu Heijboer. BikeNews Friday.
“It’s a little worrying that they aren’t putting in the effort they would need as part of the preparation.”
Jumbo-Visma quit the Swiss race on Thursday after COVID knocked unnamed numbers and names out of his team bubble.
Heijboer is working to reconfigure training plans for the team’s crucial workhorses during the most important weeks of pre-Tour preparation.
“I admit that it is not ideal. But despite everything, we have enough experience in the team to know that even with practice we can bring the guys to a very high level for the Tour,” Heijboer said on a call.
Jumbo-Visma will not be the only ones to have cold sweats on the state of its riders.
Bora-Hansgrohe captain Vlasov was a high-profile casualty on Friday. United Arab Emirates, Bahrain-Victorious and EF Education-EasyPost were all beaten by a worrying COVID crush just two weeks out from the Tour. Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar has so far been unaffected as he races on Slovenian roads.
Jumbo-Visma said he does not see his Tour de France shortlist impacted by his Swiss clash.
For likely Tour contenders like Kuss and Dennis, it’s a race against time to reach the level they were meant to be with tough races in Switzerland.
“We will plan intensive training for those who are not sick. But the problem is that we have to wait a few days because they could also be infected, which has not yet been found in the tests,” said Heijboer. “You don’t want runners to train very hard when they are infected. Because then the disease can become more serious.
Heijboer won’t be the only staff member sweating over riders’ schedules as COVID rages through the European peloton.
“We want to be absolutely sure that there are no more positive cases, and we need to follow up in the next few days,” he said on Friday.
“When they definitely stay healthy, we will definitely plan intensive training that will replicate the work that had to be done in Switzerland.”