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From March 20 to March 26, Team Jumbo-Visma will compete in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Robert Gesink, who suffered a fractured pubic bone in a crash at the Tour Down Under, will rejoin the peloton during this race.
It seems like an eternity ago, but glancing at the calendar shows it is barely eight weeks since the 36-year-old Dutchman left Down Under. "It was a nasty fracture, but I could flip the switch quickly. Unfortunately, these kinds of setbacks are part of cycling", he says from his home in Andorra.
Gesink was undeterred. "I quickly got back on my bike. After two weeks, I could train pain-free. Eight weeks have passed, and I dare say I am ready to make my comeback. I've made every effort to improve my physical fitness. Even at my age, I look forward to pinning on a number again and developing the cyclist Robert Gesink bit by bit."
He is in for a challenging race in Catalonia. The 102nd edition of the Spanish stage race starts in Sant Feliu de Guíxols on Monday. Sunday marks the traditional conclusion of the seven-day stage race at Barcelona's Montjuic. No fewer than three stages finish uphill; the final stage also features the necessary climbing.
"The organisation has set a challenging course", Gesink says. "We have a strong team at the start. We want to win the overall classification with Primoz Roglic, but we have several assets. Next week, a big part of our Giro team will be in Catalonia. You could describe it as a fantastic 'final rehearsal', not least since many powerful riders will be present."
Gesink has already finished sixth in the final classification of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and is hoping for another good result next week. "It would be nice to ride like I'm used to. I am good enough to play an important role next week. Otherwise, I would not have participated. Hopefully, I can take another step forward as a rider. It is always very satisfying to see that you are taking a step in the right direction", Gesink says.
"I am good enough to play an important role next week"
Steven Kruijswijk, Koen Bouwman, Tobias Foss, Sepp Kuss, and Michel Hessmann will join Gesink and Roglic. Wilco Kelderman was also originally scheduled to race the Catalan stage race, but it comes too soon for him after his exit from Tirreno. Next on Kelderman's programme is the Giro.
At the same time as the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, a delegation of Team Jumbo-Visma will ride the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in Italy, which the Dutch squad won two years ago with Jonas Vingegaard.
The stage race takes place from Tuesday, March 21 to Saturday, March 25 and consists of five stages, including an 18-kilometre time trial. Tom Gloag and Milan Vader, among others, hope to show their good form in southern Europe, while Gijs Leemreize will compete in his first stage race of the season. Johannes Staune-Mittet, Loe van Belle and Tijmen Graat complete the team.