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After nine months without racing, Dylan Groenewegen finally feels like a cyclist again. This month, the Amsterdam native will make his comeback in the Giro d’Italia. “I’m really looking forward to pinning down a number again."
“The initial intention was to start in the Tour of Hungary and then move on to the Tour of Norway. There racing is done in the relative lee. However, the Tour of Norway has been postponed due to corona. It is best for me that I make several racing days now. It was a difficult choice to choose the Giro, but I think it is the right choice. In any case, I feel ready to make my comeback and in that respect it helped a lot that Fabio is also back on the bike and that he was doing well in Turkey.”
The sprinter has no doubt about his sporting abilities. “The trainings are going very well. I always achieve a high level. It is also the question how I will stand my ground mentally in Italy. For the first time in nine months I am racing in a peloton again. The question is how the other riders react to me and how I react to them. I am not too concerned with peripheral matters. I will accept everyone's emotion anyway. I am really looking forward to being able to compete with the boys again.”
"I always have the will to perform well. I am going to Italy full of motivation."
The former Dutch champion on the road is still ambitious, even now that his debut in the Giro d’Italia is approaching. “I always have the will to perform well. If I feel good in the race I will certainly compete for the day’s victories. I am going to Italy full of motivation. I cannot ask for more from myself. In the second stage there is probably an immediate sprint opportunity. If I can do well there, we will certainly try. As said, a lot depends on how I will feel in the race. That is the most important thing this competition.”
Groenewegen will find his place in the peloton again. “All the messages from colleagues have done me really good and have really dragged me through it. That made me feel good. I have also had difficult moments. First, of course, the incident with Fabio in Poland, a difficult pregnancy of my girlfriend, the health of our son, the death of my grandfather and the threats to my address: everything came together. Fortunately, the sense of cycling has returned in recent months. The next step is to regain competition rhythm.”
That will happen in the Giro, which starts with a time trial in Turin on Saturday. “Personally, I always like to start a grand tour with a time trial. You can immediately put your legs on tension. You are then in the right place in the race”, the Dutchman looked ahead. “It will be in the second stage that I will talk with guys in the peloton again. Since I know that I will be riding the Giro, I really live towards being as good as possible at the first sprint appointment. If I indicate there that I feel good, then everyone in the team will be willing to give their all for me. We will only see that on Sunday. I hope I get to experience the moment of winning again soon. I think it will be a very emotional moment.”
"For now I have to stay especially close to myself. The drive to get back to my highest level is definitely there."
The four-time Tour de France stage winner reckons that his presence in Italy will make loosen tongues. “I think my presence will be under a magnifying glass in the coming period. The team has also alerted me to that. We have to take it as it is and accept how everyone deals with that. For now I have to stay especially close to myself. The drive to get back to my highest level is definitely there, but I realize that this go step by step. I will need the Giro for that.”