Lennard Hofstede set to return to action with Jumbo-Visma after team withdrew him for refusing Covid-19 vaccine

The Dutch rider could make his return at Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne, five months after his last race

Lennard Hofstede Jumbo-Visma return refusing Covid-19 vaccine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma will allow Lennard Hofstede to return to training with the team after withdrawing him for multiple months because of his refusal to take the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Hofstede hasn't competed since the CRO Race at the beginning of October 2021, and his refusal to take the vaccine meant Jumbo-Visma didn't allow him to participate at either of the training camps in Girona and Alicante, in December and January respectively. 

With UCI rules stating the requirement for riders to enter team bubbles at races was either full vaccination or a negative PCR test, Jumbo-Visma took the decision to add extra precautions of their own, consequently removing Hofstede from team training camps.

Jumbo-Visma sporting director Merijn Zeeman explained the team maintained a good relationship with the Dutch rider and his management during that period though, with a view to allow Hofstede back into the team always intended.

"We are currently in a different phase of the pandemic than at the beginning of the year," Zeeman told WielerFlits.

“We had regulations in different countries and UCI rules. We didn't want to take any risk at the time. With a view to vaccinations, we had a straightforward medical policy. That was before Omicron. 

"We have always had good contact with Lennard and his management and there has always been understanding from both sides. We have indicated that we will meet again as soon as the situation has improved. That is now the case.”

Now the 27-year-old is allowed back into the team environment, he could make his racing return sooner than expected too, with the Dutch outfit suffering a number of injuries and positive Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks of racing.

Hofstede is scheduled to race at the Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne on March 23 alongside team-mates Pascal Eenkhoorn, Timo Roosen and Mike Teunissen, though it is just a preliminary start list.

Discussing this possibility, Zeeman suggests the team could benefit from Hofstede's return.

“Perhaps Hofstede will be drafted earlier because we are dealing with a number of injuries and corona infections," Zeeman said. 

"You now see that there are quite a few positive cases after a stage race. We were confronted with it in and after Valencia and the Algarve. Fortunately, we made it through the UAE Tour and the opening weekend in Flanders well.”

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.