While Primož Roglič remains just three seconds behind Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) in the general classification, it was a day where blueprints went out the window for the yellow jersey-seeking Jumbo-Visma team at the 2020 Tour de France.
The Dutch squad, who have looked dominant since the Critérium du Dauphiné, took charge at the front of the peloton on the Port de Balès, seemingly ramping things up to launch an attack and challenge their GC rivals for the first time this race.
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However, the so-far impressive Sepp Kuss was then dropped towards the summit, maybe still recovering from a crash earlier this week, as the winner of two sprint stages Wout van Aert drove the peloton up the first HC climb of this year’s Tour.
Next up was the Peyresourde, where George Bennett took over at the front. Then came a surprise message on the radio from Tom Dumoulin who told his team-mates he wasn’t feeling good and would dedicate his legs to Primož Roglič, removing himself from GC contention.
“Dumoulin told us through the radio that he wasn’t good and that he would work for the team,” George Bennett said after the stage, then reminding everyone the team’s goals come above individual aspirations that Dumoulin may have held. “We are here to win the Tour de France.”
“We planned on doing something for the GC but this wasn’t the plan,” the Kiwi added of how the team’s stage eight went. “Nor was it [the plan] that Dumoulin would fade in the GC.”
The now de-facto team leader Primož Roglič, who finished safely in the GC group put a positive spin on things despite Dumoulin losing two minutes. Their three-pronged leadership plan leading up to the Tour now reduced to a single, Slovenian spear.
“We have shown again how strong we are,” Roglič told NOS of his team’s pace-setting on the first day in the Pyrenees.”When Tom took the lead, it exploded all at once. It’s a good start and we will continue to do our best for the rest of the game to finish as high as possible.”
Another Jumbo-Visma domestique, Robert Gesink, confirmed to Gelderlander that the team had set out to test their rivals and that despite any misfires today, they will continue to do so as the race progresses.
“We wanted to see what was possible and how the conditions are in the peloton”, Gesink explains. “We have raced with balls in that respect, but we will do that more often.”
“The Tour still has a long way to go, of course it is not ideal,” Gesink added. “On the other hand, Primož has shown that he is very good. And it just goes to show that Tom is a fantastic team player. We all know where Tom comes from, and if he can do this…that only promises a lot for what is yet to come.’
“This is a super Tour start for our team already with three stage victories. Hopefully, we will continue this.”
Kuss said: “I was not super good today. I was suffering after yesterday, but that’s alright. There are a lot of hard days to come.”
“Friday was a hard day. For me, those are way harder than any mountain stage. Just have a good meal tonight, and get ready for tomorrow.
“I think Tom was happy to do that,” he added. “Everybody knows where they’re at physically, in the end, we just want to have the yellow jersey in Paris.”