Jonas Vingegaard discusses UAE's Tour de France super team, Roglic and Evenepoel; and absence of Wout van Aert: "Wout is Wout and he also needs his chances"

Team Visma | Lease a Bike are not going all-in at the Tour de France this year, but Jonas Vingegaard is happy with the riders that will be with him at the Tour de France. He talked about Wout van Aert, Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel; alongside UAE Team Emirates' super team and the gravel stage in a recent interview.

"Whether I had a say in putting together that selection? It's more that we talked about it. But to be honest: there is not a single rider within this team that I would say 'no' to," Vingegaard tells in an interview with Wielerflits. "The team comes up with suggestions and that is always a good one. Ultimately, the team management decides that."

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The Dane talked to media extensively ahead of Gran Camiño, where he makes his season debut. The ultimate goal this year will be once again the Grand Boucle where he can achieve a third consecutive title. However he will have to do so without two riders who were key to his triumph last year: “We will of course miss Nathan [van Hooydonck] and Wout [van Aert] enormously. Wout is one of the best riders in the world. But Wout is Wout and he also needs his chances. We must respect that," he acknowledges.

"Within Visma | There are many good riders at Lease a Bike. I won't say that the new squad can do exactly the same as the one from the previous two seasons. But this selection can also make a difference and do super, super good work." Vingegaard will still have the likes of Sepp Kuss, Matteo Jorgenson, Christophe Laporte and Jan Tratnik amongst his support crew over the three weeks. "We will be strong again in the Tour. I'm very happy with it. You also spend a lot of time with the Tour group in a year, because you travel so much together. That contributes to good cohesion.”

Indeed the Dane expects to meet up with most of his teammates in competition in other big races such as Tirreno-Adriatico, Itzulia Basque Country and the Criterium du Dauphiné. However the lineup may not be stronger than UAE Team Emirates who are taking a full house of quality riders. Tadej Pogacar, Adam Yates, Juan Ayuso and João Almeida will all individually be candidates for the yellow jersey; but collectively they may be even more dangerous.

“They have indeed put together a super strong team. That team is – just like the last two years – our biggest opponent," the defending champion is aware of. "So that won't change at all. But we must take it into account. This also applies to Primož, who went from being a very good teammate to suddenly becoming one of the biggest competitors. And Evenepoel will also be very, very strong.” Vingegaard is in for a very tough task to defend his title, perhaps his most difficult Tour de France so far as he will be seen as the riders to beat.

Visma will also be seen as the team to beat, and will have to carry a responsibility that will have to work against also a very strong BORA - hansgrohe and Soudal - Quick-Step. In the mountains Vingegaard is expected to be at a high level, but in some tricky days and most importantly the gravel stage questions do arise. He is however ready for the off-road day that the riders will have in France. “I see that a bit like a cobblestone stage, like we had in 2022. We must prepare ourselves well for this."

"That day we will need the whole team to finish safely, you also need luck. Competitions such as Strade Bianche and Tro-Bro Léon have been on the table, but we are not opting for that at the moment. Wout may not be there in the Tour, but Christophe Laporte may be just as good as him on clay," Vingegaard says. "Just like Van Aert, he is super technical. He can teach me a lot in training.”

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