Jayco-AlUla brimming with confidence about a new Tour stage win for Groenewegen, Simon Yates as a versatile wildcard? Cycling

Jayco-AlUla brimming with confidence about a new Tour stage win for Groenewegen, Simon Yates as a versatile wildcard?

Jayco-AlUla brimming with confidence about a new Tour stage win for Groenewegen, Simon Yates as a versatile wildcard?

Jayco-AlUla is likely betting on two horses in the Tour de France again. On one hand, there's sprint leader Dylan Groenewegen, and on the other, there's GC contender Simon Yates. During the Critérium du Dauphiné, IDLProCycling.com spoke with two key members of the team!

First up, let's talk about former pro Tristan Hoffman, who was no slouch as a racer himself. Now 54, the team director was once crowned Dutch national champion and frequently finished in commendable positions in major one-day races (his biography is aptly titled "Flandrien from Groenlo"). In the Auvergne, the team leader was able to tell us all sorts of things about the Tour plans and preparations for it.

Can Groenewegen clinch another Tour de France stage win?

But first, the discussion turned to the year so far (as of June 1, the team's victory count stood at nine, including national titles). "We've certainly started the year off well," began the team director. "We might have hoped for a bit more from the Santos Tour Down Under, but shortly after, we won the AlUla Tour with Simon. We also had a few victories in Spain prior to that. All in all, the start was definitely good. Milan-San Remo was also very successful with Michael Matthews finishing second. That was also true for his official third place in the Tour of Flanders, though we know how that ended," he referenced the DSQ incident with Bling.

"Obviously that was bummer," Hoffman continued. "But normally, with those two podium finishes, it was quite a good period. You simply did well. In a number of sprint races, Dylan was also quite close to a victory. Sure, the goal is to win. But Dylan was definitely competitive, including in the Belgian sprint classics: once second (Bredene Koksijde Classic), once third (Scheldeprijs)... It was quite good, although we unfortunately just missed out on the win each time. The competition among the sprinters is also huge. That doesn’t make winning any easier, haha! In Hungary, he was close too. Fortunately, he finally managed to secure that coveted victory in the Tour of Limburg. That was really a relief!

Yates as a GC contender or stage hunter for Jayco-AlUla?

Then there are the general classifications in stage races: "Sometimes we hoped for a bit more," Hoffman admits. "We certainly have the riders for it, so we’ll continue to fight for results. There’s always room for improvement, and I believe there’s still a lot more potential to be tapped. Hopefully, we'll see that come to fruition soon." And speaking of the coming period, we are of course mainly looking towards the Tour de France. "Dylan will prepare through the Tour of Slovenia and then the National Championships," Hoffman explains. "In other years, he might have focused more on climbing in his preparation, but this year we're really opting for speed."

Groenewegen will likely have three to four riders in the lead-out train at La Grande Boucle. "That's one thing that's certain," Hoffman affirms. "The ultimate goal for the team and for Dylan is to win at least one stage. That's the ambition. There are 21 stages, but when you look at the quality of the field and the number of opportunities for a sprint, I think you'd be very satisfied with at least one stage win. Then you've done well. But you know how it goes: once you've won one, you want another! But let's not get too greedy just yet," laughed the friendly veteran from Gelderland. "We have every confidence in Dylan. In my eyes, he is still one of the best sprinters in the world."

Then onto Part II for Jayco-AlUla in the Tour, where they also have significant ambitions with Yates. The first question that arises is: aim for the general classification or hunt for stages? "Normally, we're going all-in with Simon for the classification," Hoffman explained clearly. "Last year he finished an impressive fourth, so that says a lot. I'm quite sure he's aiming to compete for the classification again this time. On the other hand, winning a stage in the Tour can be just as important as, for example, finishing fifth in the yellow jersey contest. Let’s just suggest both options for him," Hoffman joked. "No kidding: reaching the podium is just very difficult, although history has shown that he can function both as a GC contender and a stage hunter. So, he actually does have multiple options."

Read more below the photo!

simon yates
Can Simon Yates achieve a podium finish in the Tour?

Maas himself does not ride a grand tour but expects a lot from Groenewegen in the Tour de France

IDLProCycling.com also spoke with Jan Maas, who along with Groenewegen and Elmar Reinders, forms the Dutch trio within Jayco-AlUla. "After the Dauphiné, I will head to the National Championships with Dylan and Elmar," the 28-year-old from North Brabant shared about his own race planning. "So, we're starting there with three guys from Jayco-AlUla, which is really nice. After that, I myself will go to altitude in July, followed by a few races in Spain, including the Clasica San Sebastián. I'll also be riding the Tour of Poland, the GP Plouay (now Bretagne-Ouest Classic), the CRO Race in Croatia, and a number of Italian races. For the European Championships and the World Championships, it's always a wait to see if you get selected. You only find out about that later."

"I'm not riding any grand tour, but that's not really something I'm upset about," Maas continued. "With the addition of Caleb Ewan, we've gained a significant sprinter. He rode the Giro and will also go to the Vuelta, while Dylan is doing the Tour. And those guys need two or three lead-out men. Then half the team is already accounted for. So, for a rider like me, it's easier to accept not going. I'm simply not a lead-out man and not someone who is going to ride for the GC. You have to be realistic and honest with yourself. I race 70 to 75 races a year, including the Tour of Catalonia and the Dauphiné. And then there are plenty of other beautiful races. I'm more than satisfied with that."

Maas also expects quite a bit from Groenewegen, who seems very determined to perform in the Tour. "We won in Limburg with Dylan. That really boosted the team's confidence, especially heading into the Tour. I think he's going to be strong. He's as motivated as ever for a win. I definitely think it's possible because he's riding well. I expect we can anticipate a lot from him, for sure. Do we keep in much contact? Well, it's not too much, although it's naturally nice to have fellow Dutchmen in the team. With Elmar there as well, it's always enjoyable. We've got a nice little group."

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