"He has never been a friend of mine" - Dylan Groenewegen admits he and Fabio Jakobsen still have bad blood following 2020 crash

Heading into 2024, Dylan Groenewegen is intent on securing a return to the Tour de France as the lead sprinter of Team Jayco AlUla. Given the competition for places in that team though, he realizes results will be important.

"I don't think it has necessarily become more difficult to win stages. I do think that sprinting is evolving," the 30-year-old, five-time Tour de France stage winner says in conversation with Bici. "Nowadays, entire teams no longer ride in the service of one sprinter. Just look at my shared leadership with Simon Yates in the Tour last summer. Now there are often three or four riders in a sprint train per team."

With Team Jayco AlUla also boasting the likes of Caleb Ewan and Michael Matthews, competition for that sprint position in the team is fierce. Looking at the modern race profiles, Groenewegen believes so-called sprint stages are harder than ever. "It may be that the course of stages is different than before. The race becomes more difficult due to climbs or because the peloton also makes the race harder. I think Jasper Philipsen had the best balance last summer. But I certainly had the feeling that there could have been victories for me too."

Heading into his third year with the Australian team next year, Groenewegen is grateful for the continued faith shown in him at Team Jayco AlUla. "Thanks to saying goodbye to Jumbo-Visma, I found myself in a new place," he reflects. "I immediately felt at home here and started enjoying cycling again."

Two of Groenewegen's likely rivals for sprint wins at next summer's Tour de France will be Fabio Jakobsen and Mark Cavendish. "He has never been a friend of mine and neither is he now. He is, however, a great cyclist. That's how I view him," Groenewegen says of Jakobsen, with whom he was involved in a serious crash, back in 2020. "It was the corona period, which took a long time, I was suspended and was therefore unsure about my level. Also, my wife was pregnant and the birth of our first son was hectic. When he was there, cycling took second place. My son Mayson was my first priority."

On Cavendish though, Groenewegen seems warmer. "Where didn't he win? He will do everything to break Eddy Merckx's record," he says of the 'Manx Missile'. "He is the smartest final sprinter there is, and perhaps the best sprinter of all time.”

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