Dylan Groenewegen: “First victory will be a very emotional moment”

Dylan Groenewegen feels like a cyclist again. His suspension ends next Friday for causing the major crash in the Tour of Poland. A day later, on Saturday 8 May, the Jumbo-Visma sprinter is already making his comeback in the Giro d’Italia.Let’s start with current events: You will be back in the peloton in the Giro d’Italia next week. A comeback in the spotlight.
“That is something we did not opt ​​for at first. The plan was to start slowly, but the disadvantage of this at this time is that the planned prices are dropped one by one. The Tour of Norway has already been canceled, leaving only the Tour of Hungary for the month of May. It was a difficult choice to go to the Giro, because of course I haven’t raced for a long time. I think it is also better for me to have several racing days. ”

“Physically I am certainly ready. The last weeks I have been able to do my training well. My level is good. The question is how it goes mentally in a race, how I react to the peloton and how the peloton reacts to me. Those are questions to which I do not yet have an answer. We will see that in the race. ”

With what expectations do you go to the Giro d’Italia?
“The will to perform well is always there. The main thing is to regain pleasure in cycling. That I just enjoy it again and that I feel like being on the road with the boys again. ”

“Since I know that I can ride the Giro, I have really been working there to be as good as possible. When I say that I feel good, I think that everyone will be behind it to draw my card, but that is a question that I will only be able to answer those guys in the race. ”

“I’ve spoken to them all. They are thrilled that I am going with them, and they are convinced that I will find the right legs there again. Is that in the first week, the second week or the third week? If it is in the third week, it will not be of much use to me, but then that is to gain hardness. ”

Not everyone will receive you with the same enthusiasm. Are you prepared for negative reactions?
“I don’t think it will get any worse than what I’ve been through in recent months. (Groenewegen received serious threats, ed.) I am certainly ready. We know there can be negative reactions. ”

“Certainly immediately after the incident in Poland, it was chaos. Then my life was turned upside down for a while. Soon after, the team engaged a psychologist with whom I talked a lot. That worked very well. As the days and weeks progressed, opinions turned slightly, and I also received a lot of messages from riders and colleagues. That did something to me. ”

How will you react to your return to the pack?

“If you have been out for such a long time, especially as a sprinter, then there are many more things to consider than just being physically in order. Especially as a sprinter you have to be able to deal with the stress in the peloton again. How will my timing be in the sprint? I can do a plate sprint here, I always win … But in the peloton there is a lot more to it. ”

You have already been in contact with Fabio Jakobsen. How is your relationship at the moment?
“The first contact has been with his father. About two weeks after the fall in Poland, when it became known that he was out of danger, I messaged his father out of interest. There was a positive response, for which I was very grateful. ”

“As the months passed, I also sent messages to Fabio. Logically, I did not immediately receive a response, but that came later. Just before the Tour of Turkey we even had a conversation in a room in Amsterdam. We both could vent there. It was a very pleasant conversation for both. What exactly was discussed there, I prefer to keep between us. ”

“The main thing is that Fabio will be back in the games. That has now happened and it is very nice for him and for me. It also makes it a little easier for him to talk to me. As sportsmen, we are now looking ahead again. ”

Did the fall also make you a different rider?
“Now I say no… But there is only one way to find out. That is by racing again and daring to mix myself in the sprints again. We have to wait until the Giro to see how that will be. ”

“At first I couldn’t watch the race on television. The first thing I looked at are fragments of the Tour de France. Watching the whole stage was really too difficult for me at the time. With the whole team we are in an app group and you read there from time to time that it went very well and I could therefore not resist turning on the TV for a short time, but those were the mountain rides. ”

Are you ever going to be able to put this incident behind you completely?
“I do not think so. This will always stay with us. I was able to give it a place. After a lot of talking, I succeeded and normally I am not that fond of it. ”

“In the beginning I thought about it all day, non-stop. I also heard the bang from the crash all day long. If I even heard a bang, it was a bit of a shock. In Spain recently a car honked loudly… I was shocked to be completely smashed, but it turned out to be just very enthusiastic. Fortunately, things are now moving in the right direction. ”

The UCI has suspended you for nine months for the incident in Poland. Do you feel that you have also been punished for the consequences at Jakobsen?
“That is a difficult question. I was punished… Whether that happened only for my movements, or also for the consequences? I will leave that in the middle, I do not know exactly. It is hoped that they (the UCI, ed.) Will be more consistent in the future. The UCI has to pay attention to several things, such as the gates and descending finishes where we sprint at speeds of 90 kilometers per hour. ”

“If there are wrong movements, they should be penalized immediately. Everyone knows then: this is unacceptable. Otherwise, the edge is always pushed back. And unfortunately we have seen what can happen. ”

“I have accepted my punishment. That felt best at the time, because we didn’t know how it would end with Fabio at the time. ”

Are you going to be able to cheer as exuberantly as before?
“That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. I do not know. When you pass the finish it is always adrenaline that comes with it. I especially hope that I will experience it again soon. How do I react? In any case, I know that it will be a very emotional moment, 100% for sure. ”
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