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Defending champ Jonas Vingegaard fit to compete at Tour de France

Jonas Vingegaard

Jumbo-Visma team’s Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard cycles during the 3rd stage of the 109th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 182 km between Vejle and Sonderborg in Denmark, on July 3, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS — Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive.

Vingegaard was seriously injured in a crash in April but will be on the starting line when the race kicks off from Italy, the Danish rider’s Visma-Lease a Bike team said.

His trusted teammate Wout van Aert, who broke his collarbone and several ribs in March in another crash, will also race in support of Vingegaard.

The three-week Tour starts on June 29 in Florence.

“I am excited to start the Tour. The last few months have not always been easy,” Vingegaard 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 was hospitalized for nearly two weeks in Spain in April following the multi-rider, high-speed crash in the Tour of the Basque Country. He sustained a broken collarbone and ribs and a collapsed lung.

Before the crash, Vingegaard was considered one of the Tour de France favorites alongside Tadej Pogacar, who won the Giro d’Italia and is aiming for a rare double.

“I am very proud of Jonas and the coaching team,” his team sporting director Merijn Zeeman said. “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. 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.”

Van Aert crashed during the Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belgium. He has been training at altitude in the French ski resort of Tignes with Vingegaard.

“Of course, this was not the plan initially, but after my development in the last weeks, I really wanted it, and the team agreed,” the Van Aert said. “Our main goal is, of course, to ride a top classification with Jonas. I want to contribute to that with an excellent team.”

Van Aert is widely considered one of the world’s best and most versatile riders. The three-time cyclocross world champion is also the winner of nine Tour stages and the points classification. He’s major race wins include Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, Gent-Wevelgem and the Amstel Gold Race.

Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. is also part of the squad alongside countryman Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman and Jan Tratnik.

“Matteo Jorgenson has already become one of the strongest riders in the team this year, with wins in Paris-Nice and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and his second place in the Dauphiné,” Zeeman said. “Sepp Kuss proved last year that he is a great climber, an important domestique, and a leader in his own right with a victory in the Vuelta a España.”