Bradley Wiggins has warned cycling super team Jumbo-Visma that they are “walking a tightrope” and that they could be “burned out” by the time of the Tour de France if they overextend themselves.
Jumbo-Visma were devastated to lose the yellow jersey on the penultimate stage of the 2020 Tour when Tadej Pogacar somehow overturned the lead of Jumbo’s big GC star Primoz Roglic in a sensational time trial performance.
There is no question that the Dutch outfit are a formidable force, though. Roglic himself atoned for his Tour disaster by winning the subsequent Vuelta Espana and in 2021 has already impressed at Paris-Nice with three stage victories.
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Meanwhile, Wout van Aert is a genuine superstar blessed with an array of talents, coming second in Tirreno-Adriatico, fourth in Strade Bianche and, on Saturday, third in a thrilling conclusion to Milan-San Remo.
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However, with top rider Tom Dumoulin having taken a break from the sport, Wiggins feels that chasing victories week after week may not be the smartest strategy for Jumbo-Visma in the context of their developing rivalry with Ineos Grenadiers, who build their whole campaign to peak at the three Grand Tours and know exactly what it takes to win the biggest race of them all.
“They've spread quite thin, Jumbo-Visma,” said Wiggins on the latest episode of his podcast. “Primoz chasing Paris-Nice. There were calls of a lack of support for Van Aert at Tirreno-Adriatico going for the GC. Lack of team-mates at Milan-San Remo in the final. But their objective is the Tour de France and you can't really chase everything.
“It begs the question, where do you put your eggs and where do you put your team? It's a very, very splintered field in terms of the quality and what people are capable of. We are talking about a guy here in Van Aert who is capable of winning San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Tirreno overall, assisting someone who can win the Tour de France in Primoz Roglic.
“Also the question’s being asked if he can win a Grand Tour himself, to which the answer is yes. Second in the world TT last year, second in the world road race last year. The guy is phenomenal. We are now talking about, should we have more support for him?
Jumbo, they need to watch out. This is when Ineos do it really well. They are not panicking across all boards here.
"They have crept up, crept up, maybe took a bit of criticism for their lack of performances this year but here we are in Catalunya and what a team they have put up. They are serious, make no mistake. Their goals are the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France and they know how to do that.
“I think Jumbo, since last year, they could be accused of spreading themselves very thin and chasing everything a little bit too much whereas last year with the lockdown and the lack of racing before the Tour de France, it almost favoured them because they selected their Tour team the previous December if you like, and they spent a lot of time together and they were very fresh coming into the Tour.
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“At this rate, I think that they could be pretty burned out as a team come the Tour de France, and not have the strength that they had last year. They have already lost Tom Dumoulin, through other reasons. They are walking a tightrope, I think, whereas Ineos know how to do it. Tried and tested.
“It's not about these races so far. It's about the Tour de France and I think their lack of being present, although they (Ineos) are present in certain areas, but certainly on the results end of the table, will probably bode them well come July.”
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