Visma-Lease a Bike downplaying Jonas Vingegaard’s 2024 Tour de France GC chances

Visma-Lease a Bike sports director Merijn Zeeman has adjusted the criteria for Jonas Vingegaard’s potential participation in the 2024 Tour de France. The Danish star’s appearance now depends on being “competitive”, rather than “fighting for yellow.”

Vingegaard experienced a severe crash in the Itzulia-Basque Country in April, resulting in a race against time to recover. This latest update in the ongoing saga was revealed by Zeeman during an interview with the Cycloo Wielercafe podcast. If confirmed, it would mark a shift from earlier statements by the Dutch squad, who had previously declared that the double Tour de France winner would only race if he was fully prepared to vie for a third consecutive title.

Zeeman noted the Tour’s complexity, saying, “The Tour is not like a major time trial where the best rider always wins. There is also a tactical component, and whether you can stay out of trouble. So we are going to take a decision.”

Impact of crashes and injuries

Zeeman highlighted that since the earlier statements, the team’s situation has changed due to more riders suffering crashes and setbacks. “Yes, I said that two weeks after those falls. We have now moved on quite some time and we may still need to refine this,” he explained. “It is a very difficult puzzle. We have a lot of injuries, so we still have some work to do to sort things out.”

He also mentioned Wout Van Aert’s progress, stating, “Wout Van Aert is already a lot further along, he has already ridden the Tour of Norway. But Jonas has of course been in a tough situation since the Itzulia Basque Country race.”

Current training status

Vingegaard is currently training, but Zeeman cautioned that training is different from being competitive in the Tour. “He is now training. But training is one thing, but whether you can be competitive in the Tour is something else.”

They are not yet ready to confirm Vingegaard’s participation. “We are not yet ready to say that he will start if he can get on the podium. But sometime we will take stock [and decide]: will he go or will he not? How is he doing now? What can we expect?”

Vingegaard’s opinion crucial

Zeeman emphasised that Vingegaard’s own opinion is key in their decision-making process. He recalled the significant impact of the crash, which led to the Dane spending two weeks in hospital and not racing since early April. “It wasn’t just a broken collarbone. We must not forget that it was a crash with a very big impact. There’s also the fear of another fall. After the Dauphiné I drove on to Tignes, so I talked to him about it a lot.”