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CARCASSONNE (VN) – “It was a shit day for us.”
A 10-minute chunk of chaos in an otherwise hot snoozy stage to Carcassonne saw Steven Kruijswijk out of the race and Tiesj Benoot and yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard bruised and battered.
“I don’t know what happened out there, but Kruijswijk crashed and it was immediately clear that he could not continue,” Niermann said shortly after the stage.
“We jumped in the car to continue to chase the peloton and just when we arrived, Jonas and Tiesj were on the ground in a very bad moment as well.”
- Pogačar admits he fell into Jumbo-Visma’s trap on the Col du Galibier
- Jumbo-Visma aims to ‘crack Pogačar definitively’ after sacrificing Roglič
Jumbo-Visma confirmed Primož Roglič would leave the Tour to recover from early-race injuries shortly before the stage started Sunday.
Less than three hours later, the team was down to six after experienced climber Kruijswijk crashed heavily in the bunch and bust his shoulder.
Another tumble minutes later caught out Vingegaard and Benoot and added salt to a freshly stinging Kruijswijk-shaped wound.
“I’m OK, I have some road rash on my left side, I went down but I was quickly back up again. I feel OK, a bit sore, but that’s how it is after a crash,” Vingegaard said in a short, terse, press conference after the stage.
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 17, 2022
Roglič and Kruijswijk’s early exit leaves Jumbo-Visma short-handed just as the Tour turns its trajectory toward the mountains.
Niermann confirmed the team didn’t regret sending Roglič home ahead of time in the light of Kruijswijk’s crash, and that the Vuelta a España star was spent and legless.
With two of the Jumbo-Visma’s most crucial climbers out of the race, Benoot, Sepp Kuss and Wout van Aert will have to shoulder the burden when the race restarts in the Pyénées after the rest day Monday.
“It’s two very important teammates, two very strong riders, so that’s not nice,” Vingegaard said.
Just to put a cap on it all, Van Aert finished second in the bunch sprint to notch his fourth near-miss in the race.
“It’s quite a bad day for us, but we will just keep on fighting, all the way to Paris,” Vingegaard added.
Six on six
The Tour de France rolls toward its crucial third week with an all-new shade after a day of jeopardy for Jumbo-Visma.
Vingegaard’s seven-rider wreckin’ crew put the pain on Tadej Pogačar in the Alps and massed around its yellow jersey when the Slovenian sought revenge on the road to Mende.
Pogačar and Vingegaard can’t be separated, and now, team numbers don’t matter. Three days in the Pyrénées will put UAE-Emirates and Jumbo-Visma on-par and see Ineos Grenadiers two up with its eight-rider GC train.
“Without Stevie [Kruijswijk] we miss one very really important domestique. But that’s life. We have to do it with six and we will do it with six,” Niermann said.
“Luckily, there’s a rest day tomorrow. And then we see what the impact of this day was.”
Jumbo-Visma’s eight rider-ramparts deflected Pogačar’s pummeling attacks on stage 14 on Saturday.
Twenty-four hours later in the walled city of Carcassonne, Jumbo-Visma’s citadel remains intact and still protects a 2:22 GC lead. But those ramparts might need some shoring ahead of the Pyrénées during the rest day Monday.