Jakob Fuglsang is set to target the Giro d’Italia, Ardennes Classics and Tokyo Olympics during the 2020 season, while he will play a support role to Miguel Ángel López at the Tour de France.
Like a number of other riders, the Astana climber will forego his own Tour de France ambitions in order to make the most of a year when Olympic gold is added to the top prizes on offer to the peloton.
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A Tour de France stalwart over the past decade, the Dane has only missed the French Grand Tour once in the past 10 years in 2012, when injury and disagreements with his Leopard-Trek team blighted his season, and has only once finished outside the top 50 since his debut in 2010.
Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) are two other big riders who also prefer the Italian Grand Tour next year, with only six days in between the final stage of the Tour de France and the Olympic road race in Tokyo putting some riders off.
Before the Giro, Fuglsang will once again compete in the Ardennes Classics, with a successful spring this year delivering him a first Liège-Bastogne-Liège title as well as podium finishes at Strade Bianche, La Flèche Wallonne and the Amstel Gold Race. By filling his schedule once more with top races, the 34-year-old hopes to mount a serious challenge to the UCI rider rankings, won this year by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
“I would still like to try to give the rankings a chance,” Fuglsang told TV2 Sport. “It has not gone as I had hoped for the last couple of years, so to try something new, I think it would be good and sensible to try it in the Giro.”
Fuglsang suggests that how Astana have dished out Grand Tour opportunities to their best riders for 2020 has depended on which route’s profile suits each rider best. But Fuglsang will be on hand to provide experience as Miguel Ángel López will make his first ever Tour start.
“Right now, it looks like I’m going to ride the Tour as a support rider for Lopez,” Fuglsang continued. “Without being 100 percent sure, and that’s in relation to consideration of the route profile, the Giro fits me well and the Tour can fit Lopez quite well.”
Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué has recently highlighted that due to time differences and the distance between France and Japan, riders who finish stage 21 of the Tour on the Champs-Élysées will likely only arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday morning at the earliest, giving them four days maximum to adjust and prepare for the Olympic road race on the Saturday.
“Running the Tour to run the rankings and then being sharp for the Olympics, I think immediately, is difficult,” said Jakob Fuglsang.
One rider who will ride the Tour as preparation for Tokyo, though, is Alejandro Valverde, with the 39-year-old set to once again compete with the Dane in the Ardennes next year.