Vingegaard confirms he'll start Tour de France on 29 June. 'X' / VISMALEASEABIKE

The reigning champion of the French race has confirmed through a statement from his team, Visma-Lease, that he has overcome the effects of the serious crash he suffered in April. He will race to defend his title. "I feel good and very motivated," confirmed the Danish rider.

It was an open secret, but the official confirmation came last Thursday when his team, Visma-Lease, announced. "The Danish two-time Tour winner has recovered enough from his accident in the Tour of the Basque Country to fight for a good result," the statement read. 

Two-time Tour de France winner and reigning champion Jonas Vingegaard will race this year's Tour de France after recovering from the serious injuries he suffered at the Tour of the Basque Country in April. He was hospitalised after the crash on 4 April during the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain. He suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a damaged lung. 

It was a crash that also saw Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic, two of his direct rivals in the Tour de France, fall. He took a long time to recover and there were huge doubts about his recovery. A month later, he was back on his bike and said, "I feel confident enough to race the Grande Boucle", which starts in Florence, Italy, on 29 June and finishes in Nice on 21 July instead of Paris to avoid a clash with the Olympic Games, which start five days later.

"I am very excited to start the Tour. The last few months have not been easy. I would like to thank my family and the Visma-Lease team for their unwavering support," he said in a team statement. "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," he added.

Vingegaard has dominated the last two editions of the world's best and most important cycling race. He is the only rider to have matched or even surpassed Tadej Pogacar, who is expected to take the Dane's crown this year.

The Danish rider's strength in the mountains and time trials neutralised the undoubted quality of the young Pogacar. He won classics, something unthinkable for a rider destined to win 21-day tours, but couldn't overtake Vingegaard in France.

Vingegaard will be joined by Van Aert at the Tour de France. 'X' / VISMALEASEABIKE
Vingegaard will be joined by Van Aert at the Tour de France. 'X' / VISMALEASEABIKE

This year, however, the severity of the crash he suffered in Spain makes one very cautious about his ambitions. Sport director Merijn Zeeman said that a third consecutive yellow jersey might be too ambitious given the severity of Vingegaard's injuries.

"I am very proud of Jonas and the coaching team," he said. "In the last few weeks he has shown what a champion he is, both mentally and physically. Of course, we still don't know how far he can go," he explained. It's not easy for a cyclist to recover from injuries that have affected his whole body, with severe lung damage. He hasn't been able to race, he hasn't been able to prepare for such a big goal. His road to Paris has been far from ideal and not what cycling demands today.

Vingegaard will be joined in the team by another rider who has suffered a crash this year. This is the tireless and versatile Wout van Aert, stage winner at the Tour and three-time cyclo-cross world champion. The Belgian broke his collarbone, breastbone and ribs in the one-day race Around Flanders on 27 March. He also suffered a damaged lung. He was the first of the top riders to start 2024 with a crash.

"This was not in the original plan, but after my progress in the last few weeks I wanted to do it and the team agreed," said Van Aert. The Giro d'Italia was his real goal, but the crash prevented him from doing so. Van Aert is a real asset as a teammate, capable of challenging for victories in the mountains, sprints or time trials, as well as supporting his leader. "Our main goal is of course to fight for a prominent ranking with Jonas. I want to contribute to that with an excellent team," said Van Aert.

Visma will be one of the strongest teams at the Tour de France. However, Primoz Roglic will be absent this year after joining Bora. Vingegaard and Van Aert will be joined by Vuelta a España champion Sepp Kuss, another invaluable domestique who has been boosted by his victory in the Spanish Tour. Paris-Nice winner Matteo Jorgenson, Jan Tratnik and Wilco Kelderman will also be present.