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Sport director Matt White said the hard yards that Groenewegen suffered in the French Alps will pay dividends next month at the Tour de France.
The Dutch sprinter struggled to stay with the bunch during the hilly and fast opening stages at the key Tour warmup race, but that was all part of the plan.
“The big picture is that we’re getting ready for the biggest race of the year, and that’s the Tour de France,” White told VeloNews.
“We’re trying something different with him. He’s never done the Dauphiné or Switzerland when he’s prepared for the Tour before, and the idea behind it is to make him more resilient for the Tour de France.”
- Yates waiting to see how knee recovers
- BikeExchange rues missed chance at Dauphiné
- Groenewegen back to winning ways
Groenewegen didn’t start Saturday’s climbing stage, and was dropped in all the sprint stages except for Friday, when he was second in the bunch sprint behind the winning breakaway.
“It’s not just about flat stages, and everyone knows the Tour is very hard,” White said. “I think we’ve had success in building some real resilience out of a guy who is a pure sprinter, he’s a big guy, and he’s a fast man.
“He’s been taken out of his comfort zone this week, and he will be out of his comfort zone at the Tour de France, and that’s the reason we brought him here. He’s tracking well.”
Groenewegen left Jumbo-Visma to join BikeExchange-Jayco at the beginning of this season with the promise of returning to the Tour.
With Jumbo-Visma going all in for the yellow jersey with an entire team devoted to the overall classification, Groenewegen saw the writing on the wall.
Groenewegen hasn’t started the Tour since 2019, and hopes to deliver a fifth career Tour stage win or more for his new bosses at the Aussie-backed franchise.
White said the demands of the Dauphiné should pay big in July.
“The first week is for the sprinters, but if you want to win in Paris, or in the third week, you need to get there, you need to get there fresh, and this is all part of the process of getting him in the best condition before he arrives,” said White, who added that Groenewegen will race again before the Tour.
‘Waiting for Simon Yates’
White confirmed that the team’s “Tour Eight” will be finalized after the Tour de Suisse.
A key possible piece of the team’s Tour puzzle is Simon Yates.
The British superstar won two stages at the Giro d’Italia, but was forced to abandon with a knee injury suffered in a pileup in stage 4. Yates is recovering but White said there’s no decision yet on whether or not he will race the Tour.
“Simon Yates is on the bubble,” White said. “We are planning that day-by-day. We will not send him there unless he’s ready to win stages. If he’s ready, it’s a consideration, otherwise we will have a ‘Plan B.'”
The team’s larger ambitions remain the same if Yates is there or not.
“Regardless if Simon comes or not, we are going for stage wins,” White said. “We got Michael Matthews, we got Dylan Groenewegen, and we’ve got some other versatile riders, and we’ll see what happens with Simon.”
Without a GC leader, the team will rewind the years, and return to the Tour with a team stacked with sprinters, stage-hunters, and opportunists.