Dylan Groenewegen will return to racing at the Giro d’Italia, his first race back after he was banned by the UCI.
Jumbo-Visma rider Groenewegen was suspended from racing for nine months for his involvement in the Tour of Poland crash with Fabio Jakobsen last season.
The Dutchman was punished by the UCI after he pushed Jakobsen into the barriers during the high-speed downhill finish on stage one of the WorldTour race in August 2020.
But as his suspension comes to an end on May 7, Groenewegen will now line up in the Giro d’Italia just one day later.
The 27-year-old had planned to return to racing in a series of smaller races this year, starting with the Tour of Hungary next month, but after Jumbo’s Chris Harper was forced to skip the Giro do to an eye condition, Groenewegen will make his comeback in the first Grand Tour of the season.
Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman said: “Dylan is one of our leaders, but he has not been able to race for a long time due to his long suspension. We had mapped out a nice program for him that would allow him to return to the peloton in the shadows. However, due to corona, the Tour of Norway has already been postponed and it remains to be seen whether the other races he would ride will remain on the calendar. With this solution we opt for more certainty, because after nine months without racing it is the intention for Dylan to return to competition.”
Groenewegen, winner of 53 races including four Tour de France stages, hasn’t raced since August 5, 2020 when he was involved in a crash during the sprint finish into Katowice in the Tour of Poland.
During the infamous downhill sprint, Groenewegen pushed Jakobsen into the barriers at the side of the road, which gave way and sent Jakobsen into the air.
Following the collision, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Jakobsen was left with serious facial injuries, while Groenewegen suffered a broken collarbone and was disqualified from the race.
The UCI then handed him a nine-month ban from racing for his role in the crash, while the downhill finish into Katowice will no longer form part of the race.
Groenewegen also revealed he received death threats in the wake of the incident.
Zeeman added: “Dylan has worked hard for his return, but he has no race rhythm and he will have to find his place in the peloton after everything that happened. That is now the priority. With David Dekker we have another fast man in the team, so we have several options for different situations. It is great that Fabio Jakobsen has made a good return in Turkey. Now that Dylan has served his suspension, it is hoped that the same will apply to him soon. That’s the most important thing now. I hope everyone will give him that chance.”
Jakobsen made his racing return in the Tour of Turkey earlier this year, where he helped his team-mate Mark Cavendish make his own comeback, winning four stages for the team.
Groenewegen said: “I have received many heart warming messages after all that has happened, but I am also taking into account some negative reactions on my return. That might happen anyway.
“I have spoken with Fabio before he went to Turkey and it was good to see how well he did there. I am very much looking forward to racing again myself too now and I am glad that I can do that in a beautiful race like the Giro d’Italia.”