Jumbo-Visma played vital role in decisions following "life-threatening" team time trial second Vuelta stage Cycling

Jumbo-Visma played vital role in decisions following "life-threatening" team time trial second Vuelta stage

Jumbo-Visma played vital role in decisions following "life-threatening" team time trial second Vuelta stage

Jumbo-Visma played a pivotal role on Sunday morning in the final decision to record the classification times in the second stage of the Vuelta, positioned at nine kilometers from the finish line. In IDLProCycling.com, we visited their bus just before the start and had a conversation with team leader Marc Reef.

During the interview, the course of events remained uncertain. Initially, the Vuelta organizers had opted to record times at the top of Barcelona's Montjuïc, located just over three kilometers from the original finish line. However, this solution didn't satisfy many teams. As rumors of ongoing negotiations circulated, we made a stop at the Jumbo-Visma bus.

Hi Marc, did the adrenaline drop quite quickly last night?

"Yes, although at the moment, the adrenaline is also present in anticipation of what will happen today."

Yes, I understand that various scenarios are being discussed since not everyone is satisfied with the plan to have the finish for classification riders on the final climb...

"Exactly, because in the end, it doesn't make a significant difference. You still have the bonus seconds at the top and the finish line, so teams will keep pushing. We're looking for a solution that works for everyone. We recognize the importance of the organization and the significance of Barcelona. They invest in this race, and we also have a stake in it, which is the safety of the riders. Given the current conditions, that can be quite challenging."

Now, twenty minutes before the start, is there still no decision?

"No, but if there's going to be a different decision, it will be made before the start."

We saw a video of Jonas Vingegaard's bike change in the team time trial, and it was incredibly fast! How do you experience that from the car?

"In that situation, communication is key. Mathieu (performance coach Heijboer, ed.) handled the communication to the group, indicating what needed to be done. The mechanics were right behind them, and they reacted swiftly. This scenario had been discussed, so they knew the exact procedure. Two mechanics were involved—one taking the bike, handing over the replacement, and the other preparing the spare bike. The stress lies more in executing it as quickly as possible."

Is it somewhat reassuring that despite the bike change, you only lost half a minute in the end?

"It's never ideal to start off in that manner, but the conditions were far from optimal at the beginning, and especially towards the end. The primary focus was on safety, avoiding any unnecessary risks, and ensuring everyone stayed on their bikes. There was a level of understanding that we might lose time compared to teams that were willing to take more chances. In situations like this, maintaining composure and focus is crucial. Mathieu handled it well, and the riders did their best under the circumstances. Naturally, we would have preferred a smaller time gap, but the race spans three weeks, and a lot can unfold. Everyone will encounter their fair share of challenges."

Read more below the video!

I spoke with Attila Valter at the finish, and he seemed genuinely terrified. How did you find the riders after the stage?

"If you look at evenepoel's reaction, you'll get an idea of what it was like. It was so dark that you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, with rain pouring down. Riding at seventy kilometers per hour on narrow tires through the city, with water splashing everywhere, is a challenge that's hard for many to comprehend. Evenepoel provided a great analogy: it's like driving on a highway at 200 kilometers per hour without your headlights on - incredibly dangerous. The conditions really caught the riders off guard, and it was extremely tough."

Did you consider officially lodging a complaint with the UCI?

"The thing is, when you do that, it might shift the focus solely onto Saturday's events. It's essential to learn from what happened and not dwell on it for too long. We need to move forward and seek solutions, which is what our team, along with some others, is advocating through PlanSafeR. This initiative allows us to address such issues proactively. The rapid darkness caught everyone by surprise. Perhaps we can anticipate such scenarios better in the future, even though these conditions were far from normal. Yesterday is in the past, and we need to concentrate on finding solutions for the future. This incident serves as a prime example of that."

Regarding the second stage, depending on the final decision, was this a stage you had marked on your calendar ahead of the Vuelta? I'm reminded of Wout van Aert's stage 4 victory in the 2022 Tour de France...

"We need to wait and see what's decided. Our assumption is that racing will take place, although safety remains paramount. If any action is being taken, we have to be prepared. It's a demanding finish, which naturally draws in the classification riders. We have two riders who excel in such scenarios."

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