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‘This is what we planned’ – Jumbo-Visma rise to the top

Having focussed on developing the strengths of riders already within the team in recent years, the Dutch squad now eyes signing Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin.

SAINT-ÉTIENNE, France (VN) — A few years ago, Jumbo-Visma sat in the deep end of the team rankings. Now, the Dutch WorldTour team is cycling at the top.

The massive change saw it winning stages in the Tour de France, placing fourth and fifth overall in 2018, and collecting victories around the globe.

In the 2019 Tour de France, it began with Mike Teunissen’s sprint to victory in Brussels and the team time trialing to stage two victory. On Friday, stage seven, it won again with Dylan Groenewegen, whose crash in stage one allowed Teunissen his chance.

“This is what we planned. We planned this a couple of years ago, saying what do we need to do,” team boss Richard Plugge explained to VeloNews.

“Sometimes you need to have a little bit of luck, step by step we are where we want to be.”

Those steps involved Robert Gesink developing into a super domestique. American Sepp Kuss stepping up rapidly to support Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic. Groenewegen becoming faster and Roglic more consistent. And an aggressive push to sign Wout Van Aert over the last off-season.

“Exactly, it was a dream start to the Tour de France,” the ever-present and easy talking Plugge explained.

“We planned it. We planned it with Dylan on day one in the Tour, but not with Mike. Our plan was all coming together until 1km before the finish line. Then everyone was a bit down with Dylan’s crash, then suddenly, there was Mike.

“Our second line is already for a couple of years so strong that even the second line is starting to win races. That makes me incredibly proud of what we did in the last years and what we did now. Building up and still in progression. That we could do that, that’s really good.”

Having a second line ensures a team excels in a brutal sport that often sees riders crashing and breaking bones. It is similar to Team Ineos, which has Geraint Thomas or Egan Bernal even when it lost four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome to a crash ahead of the 2019 edition.

It means Jumbo-Visma can field Roglic in the Giro d’Italia and Kruijswijk in the Tour, where he sits fourth at 15 seconds behind Thomas in the virtual classification.

“Yeah, but that was the goal a couple of years ago. That’s what I put on our road map for the coming years, that I wanted to have that,” Plugge said.

“That we are not dependent on only one or two riders with all the risks of someone crashing and you don’t have any other chances. This is exactly how we planned it out a couple of years ago.”

Along those lines, the team is reportedly looking into signing Tom Dumoulin if he leaves Sunweb early. Dumoulin spoke with Team Sunweb management yesterday and news should come soon.

In the meantime, Jumbo-Visma keeps steamrolling on through the Tour de France. Three wins and counting with a push to support Kruijswijk to the overall win.