Although we’re only halfway through 2019, it’s already been a year to forget for Sunweb, the German team putting all of their eggs in one Tom Dumoulin-shaped basket and having the misfortune of watching them fall out and smash all over the floor.
Following the Dutchman crashing out of the Giro d’Italia early on, the silver lining was that it was potentially an early enough abandonment that he would be able to make it back in time for the Tour de France where he would look to better his second place at last year’s race.
However, after undergoing a successful operation to remove gravel from his knee, which had been irritating him since his Giro crash, he travelled to the Alps for a stint of altitude training but turned his car around en route, abandoning the trip and in turn the Tour de France 2019.
What do Sunweb do now? Michael Matthews has said he feels “totally confused” after following team orders at the start of the year to leave behind any personal ambitions and go all-in for Dumoulin’s tilts at Giro and Tour victory, preparing his legs to help in the mountains and improving his time trialling ability.
Despite the Australian’s lack of confidence going into the Tour, where he admits many of the stages do suit him, he will line up in Brussels on July 6 as part of Sunweb’s eight-man squad.
Nicolas Roche is set to ride his ninth Tour de France and will be joined by Nikias Arndt, Søren Kragh Andersen and Wilco Kelderman, who finished fifth at the recent Tour de Suisse and came fourth at the 2017 Vuelta a España.
Chad Haga, who won a surprise stage in the final time trial at the Giro d’Italia 2019, will also race for the German team, as sprinter Cees Bol lines up for his debut Tour de France.
As well as targeting stages, Matthews may mount a challenge for the sprint classification, having taken the green jersey at the 2017 race and finishing third in the classification in 2016.