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Primož Roglič is back on the bike, but nobody knows where he’s headed.
Jumbo-Visma is playing “wait and see” as to whether its triple Vuelta a España champion will defend his maillot rojo when the Spanish tour rolls out of the Netherlands in two weeks’ time.
“A decision is simply not made yet, we are waiting on the way and speed of Primož’s recovery,” a team spokesperson told VeloNews on Friday.
Should Roglič not make the Utrecht start on August 19, Jumbo-Visma may need topivot.
Roglič only returned to training this week, one month after a Tour de France crash crunched his shoulder, battered his back, and forced a second DNF in two years.
“He’s recovering, we hope he’s fine for the Vuelta but it’s too early to say,” team trainer Mathieu Heijboer told VeloNews in a recent call.
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Jumbo-Visma centered its Vuelta around the Slovenian star’s GC ambition in the past three seasons. The 32-year-old’s absence this summer could force a new direction.
“The team direction is all depending on the status of Primož,” Heijboer said. “If he’s not there, it will totally change the approach.”
Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard is on extended vacation after he scored Jumbo-Visma its first yellow jersey last month, while Tom Dumoulin is unlikely to race in Spain as he rides into retirement.
Jumbo-Visma could have a Vuelta leadership vacuum in a startlist likely to be headlined Richard Carapaz, Simon Yates, Remco Evenepoel, and Giro d’Italia champion Jai Hindley.
Sepp Kuss slated for Spain
No Roglič would leave a lot of room for the rest of Jumbo-Visma to move at this year’s Vuelta.
Jumbo-Visma hasn’t confirmed its Vuelta roster yet, but short-listers Kuss, Rohan Dennis, and Robert Gesink give stage-hunt options on all terrain.
“Some names are already known. Sepp is already planned for the Vuelta,” Heijboer said.
Kuss barely slowed down since he helped Vingegaard keep a cork on Tadej Pogačar at the Tour.
The mega-mountain domestique logged a series of four- to five-hour rides deep in the Andorran mountains this week in a build toward what seems a near-certain fifth-straight Vuelta.
“He took a well-deserved rest for a week after the Tour and started training again to prepare for the Vuelta,” Heijboer said.
Kuss is notorious for picking up pace through the season. Kuss last year tipped into the Vuelta top-10 and shepherded Roglič to his third straight title after he stormed to long-waited U.S. stage victory at that July’s Tour.
“Once all eight names are known we’ll communicate them in due course,” a team spokesperson confirmed Friday.