Cycling-Fit-again Vingegaard to defend Tour de France crown


  • Cycling
  • Thursday, 20 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France - Stage 21 - Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines to Paris Champs-Elysees - France - July 23, 2023 Team Jumbo–Visma's Jonas Vingegaard lifts his bike as he celebrates winning the Tour de France Pool via REUTERS/Marco Bertorello/File Photo

(Reuters) -Twice Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered from injuries to his lung and collarbone and will compete in the race, which begins later this month, his team Visma-Lease a Bike said on Thursday.

The Danish rider, winner of the last two editions of the Tour de France, has not raced since being involved in a high-speed crash in the Tour of the Basque Country in April where he broke his collarbone and several ribs.

Vingegaard's team manager Richard Plugge had said last month that the 27-year-old would not compete on the Tour until he was 100% fit but the Danish rider made steady progress over the past month.

"I am excited to start the Tour. The last few months have not always been easy, but I thank my family and Team Visma-Lease a Bike for their unwavering support," Vingegaard, who won the race in 2022 and 2023, said.

"We have worked together to get to this moment, and of course, I am very excited to see where I stand. I feel good and very motivated."

Vingegaard crashed at high speed on a descent which led to the stage being neutralised after a chain reaction saw several riders go down. Vingegaard was later taken away on a stretcher wearing a neck brace.

"I am very proud of Jonas and the coaching team. He is coming back from a serious injury. In the last few weeks, he has shown what a champion he is, both mentally and physically," the team's sporting director Merijn Zeeman said.

"Of course, we don't know how far he can go yet. We are being cautious because he has not been able to race and his preparation has been less than ideal, to say the least. But he will be there, healthy and motivated."

Nine-times stage winner and former green jersey holder Wout van Aert, who was recovering from a crash of his own in Dwars door Vlaanderen, is also on the team.

"I am really looking forward to the Tour de France. Of course, this was not the plan initially, but after my development in the last weeks, I really wanted it, and the team agreed," he said.

The June 29-July 21 Tour de France begins with the Grand Depart in Florence this year.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru;Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Ken Ferris)

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