Jumbo-Visma has had to make more changes to its Giro d’Italia squad as the Fossacesia Marina start nears, taking out Tobias Foss and Robert Gesink. Jos van Emden and Rohan Dennis are set to step in as replacements to support Primož Roglič as he lines up as one of the key favourites, alongside Remco Evenepoel.
Both Foss and Gesink withdrew from the Tour de Romandie before stage 4 with the team saying at the time that they “woke up with minor health problems and decided to leave the stage race with an eye on the Giro d’Italia”.
However, the hopes of a quick recovery weren’t realised, for either Gesink – who has been on the start line with Roglič for all three of his Vuelta a España victories – or the in-form Foss.
“Unfortunately, covid strikes again,” said the team in a Twitter post announcing the changes. “Besides Wilco Kelderman, also Tobias Foss and Robert Gesink will be replaced in the Giro d’Italia. Jos van Emden and Rohan Dennis are their substitutes.”
Key domestique Kelderman was swapped out of the squad for the Giro last month, after a crash at Tirreno Adriatico left him unable to prepare at altitude. He was replaced by Sepp Kuss who, along with Gesink, has been with Roglič for many of his biggest Grand Tour successes from the Tour de France runner up spot to the Vuelta victories.
The American climber was also on hand for Roglič’s last appearance at the Giro d’Italia in 2019 – when he came fourth – as was Van Emden who is now lining up for his 12th start at the Italian Grand Tour.
Dennis doesn’t have the depth of history in supporting Roglič over three weeks as Kuss and Van Emden, having only once lined up as a teammate in a Grand Tour; that was at last year’s Vuelta, which didn’t end so well for the Slovenian after he crashed heavily.
The Australian hadn’t originally been in the picture for the Jumbo-Visma Giro d’Italia team, focussing on the Tour de Romandie as a key goal in his last season before retirement, however he had to opt out of that race due to illness.
The form he had been working toward for the Tour de Romandie, however, could now be well redirected as while Dennis may not have a long record alongside Roglič at Grand Tours he does have an example of just what a powerful ally he can be to show for his last appearance at the Giro d’Italia in 2020. Then riding for Ineos Grenadiers, his incessant pace making on crucial climbs was crucial to the success of surprise winner Tao Geoghegan Hart.
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