Dylan Groenewegen says he will never put the Tour of Poland crash behind him completely.
The Dutch sprinter will be making his comeback at the Giro d’Italia, after serving a nine-month ban for pushing Fabio Jakobsen into the barriers at high speed during a sprint finish.
Groenewegen, the winner of 53 races including four Tour de France stages, was initially scheduled to make his return in a number of smaller races, but he was added to the Jumbo-Visma squad for the Giro at the last minute.
In an interview with cycling website Wielerflits, Groenewegen said: “It was a difficult choice to go to the Giro, because of course I haven’t raced for a long time.
“Physically I am certainly ready. The question is how it goes mentally in a race, how I react to the peloton and how the peloton reacts to me.”
Groenewegen’s nine-month ban for dangerous sprinting comes to an end on May 7, the day before the Giro d’Italia starts in Turin.
The 27-year-old was banned by the UCI after he pushed Fabio Jakobsen into the barriers during the infamous downhill sprint finish last August, on stage one of the 2020 Tour of Poland.
Jakobsen suffered serious facial injuries and only made his return to racing earlier this month at the Tour of Turkey.
Groenewegen, who suffered a broken collarbone in the crash and was disqualified from the race, was subjected to death threats in the wake of the incident.
But he will make his Giro d’Italia debut next weekend, after Jumbo-Visma’s Chris Harper has been forced to miss the race due to an eye condition.
When asked if he will ever be able to put the incident behind him, Groenewegen said: “I don’t think so. This will always stay with me.
“In the beginning I thought about it all day, non-stop. I also heard the bang from the crash all day long.
“Fortunately, things are now moving in the right direction.”
He added that he accepts his punishment and that he hopes to experience the thrill of victory soon, saying it will be a very emotional moment.