Jumbo Visma’s Wout Van Aert withdrew from the Belgium National Championships where he was expected to defend his road race title due to a minor knee injury that has created some worry around his participation in the Tour de France, starting in Denmark in just over a week. Van Aert apparently banged his knee on his bars during a training ride, and it has led to minor soreness in his knee. So far, they are billing his decision to skip Nats as a way to assure his Tour participation, and barring some significant symptoms you can probably expect to see him in Copenhagen next week. There was some excitement around news that Wout will be free to chase after the Green Jersey, which he would be a decent bet to win. But whether he is at his best or can stay in the race after putting his knee to work is the real worry. Hope it’s nothing.
Anyway, the teams lining up for the Tour de France tend to announce lineups right about now or very soon. If you want to follow along with the changes, Twitter is (as usual) the most immediate for particular decisions, but you can also track the various changes at CyclingFever’s Tour Startlist, which they update daily if not more. Another reliable source is ProCyclingStat’s Tour Startlist, which also looks very up to date (as they are on many things).
Jumbo’s eight-rider formation were announced earlier this week, and the big news was dropping Rohan Dennis. Today, AG2R released its team and left off Greg Van Avermaet, preferring to emphasize climbers who can help Ben O’Connor after watching the former Olympic Gold Medalist struggle in the climbs of the Dauphiné. Just a hunch that Van Avermaet was eyeing the Roubaix-area cobbles stage, but nobody believes that will play out like the spring classic event, given the rather polite nature of the cobbles secteurs involved. Stan De Wulf got the team’s final spot, making his debut at the Grand Boucle.
Another rider on the edge right now is Max Schachmann, who tested positive for COVID this week and will miss the Germany Nats, with a hope that he will be fine in time to start in Copenhagen. His BORA Hansgrohe team just watched Alexander Vlasov drop out of the Tour de Suisse while in the overall lead, part of a COVID wave that decimated the race’s ranks. They have added Lennard Kämna to their provisional 10-rider list so both riders are tbd. Bahrain-Victorious lost Gino Mäder to COVID and have announced that he won’t be making his Tour debut.
Meanwhile, it’s time for another Tour tradition: new kits! Jumbo-Visma had announced theirs earlier in the year, and they are quite something.
LOVE. Now it looks like BORA have a special edition kit out:
Reserving judgment but no complaints. I believe INEOS have a special Tour kit with more white on it, but haven’t seen an image yet. Feel free to add more in comments. Thanks!