Stay Home Stories: George Bennett
In the column ‘Stay Home Stories’, the cyclists of Team Jumbo-Visma talk about t...
All the schedules that cycling team Team Jumbo-Visma had made for this season can be thrown away thanks to the corona crisis. With the strongest team ever, the Dutch team would take a shot at the final victory in the Tour de France, this summer. But for now, Tom Dumoulin, Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk are only working on maintaining their condition. Indoors or outdoors, depending on the country where they are staying.
“We don’t have a goal right now”, Merijn Zeeman, sports director of Team Jumbo-Visma, says to the general Dutch press office ANP. “When everything gets going again, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.” According to Zeeman, a thorough preparation for the Tour requires six to eight weeks. That includes, for example, designated training. “For the time being, most of our riders only train on a bike roller.”
Team Jumbo-Visma decided to cancel their participation in races like Paris-Nice and Milan-Sanremo before the season had truly started. “We are a team that takes social responsibility. If we think that the health of the riders and staff, but in fact of society as a whole, is at risk, we don’t think we should be racing.” Zeeman doesn’t think he has to make the same decision about participating in the Tour. “For now I assume the UCI and the ASO (organiser of Paris-Nice, but also of the Tour) have learned from the mistake to let Paris-Nice continue.”
Zeeman and certainly the riders are waiting for a goal on the horizon. “Now training is, as far as possible, maintenance and perhaps also distraction. We realise that the chance of the Tour taking place is very small. Also because there can’t really be a fair competition.”
But what if the Tour disappears, but later, in August, the Vuelta will continue? Will the ‘dream team’ with which Jumbo-Visma wanted to go to the Tour go to Spain instead? Zeeman doesn’t rule out that possibility. “If they could cycle again, all the old plans would go to waste. Then there might also be a new cycling calendar.”
Bizarre times, says Zeeman, who hopes to get something positive out of it. “We’re now also starting up things like personality tests, we’re continue to work on the development of the food coach app so that we can say that we’ve not been idle when the world starts spinning again. It’s a pity, especially because we had big plans. But we are now facing a crisis on an unprecedented scale. There are more important things at the moment. They transcend this sport.”