Just before Christmas, Team Jumbo-Visma presented not only its riders, but also its goals for 2023. The recurring theme on that wish list is the pursuit of perfection in the biggest races because, in addition to the cobbled classics, winning the double of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France is also a goal for the Dutch formation.
With big aspirations for the final classification, Team Jumbo-Visma will start in May in Fossacesia, Italy. Primoz Roglic has been appointed the leader of the Dutch team for the Giro and now has Wilco Kelderman as a super domestique by his side.
“That choice followed some careful deliberation,” sportive director Merijn Zeeman acknowledges. “But it fits nicely with Primoz's ambitions.”
Zeeman witnessed the Slovenian ride in pink for several days in 2019 and experienced firsthand why he had openly expressed a desire to compete in the Italian Tour one day. “Primoz rode a strong Giro a few years ago. In the coming edition, he intends to compete for the overall victory,” Zeeman said. “We think the course suits Primoz very well. A powerful team will surround him. Our ambition is to win the Giro.”
Last season, Team Jumbo-Visma achieved a longtime goal by winning the Tour de France for the first time. Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard were both team leaders in the race, but Vingegaard took over after a crash derailed Roglic. “And I am only too happy to go and defend that title,” Vingegaard said. “There is something magical about starting with jersey No. 1. And at the start, I will have more experience than I did during the previous two editions.”
The Danish Tour winner is unconcerned by mounting pressure. “I'm not under any additional pressure right now,” Vingegaard said. “You might argue that there are greater expectations, but I can also take pleasure in already having a Tour triumph under my belt.”
The two leaders have already won four grand tours, but Team Jumbo-Visma has never won a double grand tour in one season.
In addition to winning two grand tours, winning one of the two most prominent monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, is also high on the Dutch squad's wish list. With the addition of Dylan van Baarle, the spring classics lineup has been reinforced and it is ready to fulfill its sky-high ambitions.
During the team presentation recently in Amsterdam, Wout van Aert expressed his delight at the arrival of the Dutchman. “With his addition, the team has gotten even stronger. Last year, it was already like that with Tiesj and Christophe, and we had a good spring. Unfortunately, I was unable to start in Flanders. However, after recovering from the coronavirus, I rode to the podium in Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”
Van Aert will begin the season at Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milan-San Remo next season, following a busy cyclocross season, before traveling to Belgium for the remaining classics.
“Riding classics is about having as many riders in the final as possible,” Van Aert said. “You should be able to win as a team. If Dylan and I are still in the lead in the final, we have a decent chance of winning. I'm confident we will only make each other stronger. We both improve our chances by racing together.”
Van Baarle agrees with his new teammate. “We must ensure that both of us make it to the final. The best rider of the day will always win in the end. I'm really looking forward to competing together with Wout.”
Last year, the Van Baarle was the first to turn onto the legendary Vélodrome's cycling track to win Paris-Roubaix for INEOS Grenadiers. “That is something I will never forget,” he said. “It will be a big honor for me to return there as the current winner next season.”
Van Baarle is stepping into the spotlight at Team Jumbo-Visma. “That adds pressure, but I'm prepared for it. I'm already looking forward to the Tour of Flanders. That race has something special for me. I've been really close to winning a couple times. It still bothers me now and then.”
Winning the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, Zeeman has been dreaming of this for a long time. “I think it is feasible with this team. Last year, Van Aert and Van Baarle were each other's main rivals at Roubaix, but that will not be the case this year. We expect to be stronger than ever in the classics finals. Specific training, the best materials, and a comprehensive tactical strategy are all required. It's going to be an exciting spring.”
Two Durangoans also ride for Jumbo-Visma, Sepp Kuss and Colby Simmons. Kuss won a stage in the 2021 Tour de France while last year he reached the podium in third at the Ardeche Classic. Simmons, meanwhile, competes on the Jumbo-Visma development team.