Analysis: How Jumbo-Visma is raising its game to stay on top in 2023
Jumbo-Visma ended 2022 as the No. 1 men's WorldTour team. For next year, the team will be under pressure to stay there.
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Jumbo-Visma confirmed its status as the best team in the men’s WorldTour in 2022 in spectacular and absolute fashion.
Capped by its first Tour de France win after banging on the door the past few seasons, the Dutch-backed team won big across the entire calendar, finishing the year ranked No. 1 in the UCI WorldTour team rankings.
For 2023, the team aspires for even more, with a yellow jersey title defense for Jonas Vingegaard, and what’s proving to be an elusive northern monument for Wout van Aert. A healthy Primož Roglič will keep the team at the top of any leaderboard and its horde of classics specialists will the Dutch yellow jackets in the winning frame.
So how do you make a near-perfect team even better? With a few select but impactful signings.
To stay on top, Jumbo-Visma brass recruited during the 2022-23 transfer season a handful of key riders to put a shine on what’s already arguably cycling’s best all-around team.
We dive into where Jumbo-Visma will be stronger in 2023:
Now bonafide classics powerhouse
Jumbo-Visma was selective in its signings for 2023, with the arrival of four veterans who will help its already steady presence in grand tours and the classics, and one promising rider for the future in Thomas Gloag (Trinity Racing).
Dylan van Baarle is the classics team’s top arrival. The defending Paris-Roubaix champion will give the already-potent team an extra card to play.
Even though Van Aert is the center of the team’s classics ambitions, Jumbo-Visma, just like everyone else, watched with admiration as Quick-Step dominated the classics with a press offense.
Racing with more options in any one-day race is where the sport is moving, and Jumbo-Visma has the checkbook and the depth to challenge to Quick-Step to its classics throne.
Van Baarle will join Van Aert, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, and Nathan Van Hooydonk as a classics-bound super-team. Any one of those five are capable of winning from March all the way into April.
Perhaps for the first time in decades, Quick-Step will be on the back foot for the northern classics with the arrival of Jumbo-Visma into the frame.
More grand tour muscle
The team’s fleet of climbers and support riders for the grand tours didn’t need much fine-tuning.
Roglič rattled off three straight wins at the Vuelta a España (2019-21), Vingegaard won the franchise’s first yellow jersey, and the team was runner-up at the Tour in 2020 and 2021.
So Jumbo-Visma clearly knows what it’s doing in grand tours.
The team picked up Wilco Kelderman (Bora Hansgrohe), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), and Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) in three very selective signings.
All three will slot into support roles in the grand tours, and provide even more firepower in the middle and deep mountains. They could even slot into leadership roles in other key moments across the racing calendar.
Their collective arrival will make the selection for one of eight Tour de France starting spots even more challenging for the team’s already deep bench.
With Vingegaard, Roglič, and Van Aert already taking up three of the eight spots, there are a lot of warm bodies in line to fill five support roles.
That blessing for team management could see riders like Sepp Kuss, Robert Gesink, and Steven Kruijswijk to see added pressure to make the Tour Eight selection.
Sprints are left for Van Aert
After the release of Dylan Groenewegen in early 2022, the team won’t be making a U-turn on its sprinting program.
Van Aert still has the green light to mix it up in the sprint stages at the Tour, and the team — especially considering it’s limited to eight starters in grand tours — sees no room to bring on a one-dimensional sprinter.
His first green jersey in 2022 could be the beginning of many more for Van Aert.
Van Aert can do a bit of everything, and he’s cycling’s ultimate utility player, so Jumbo-Visma sees no need or room to have a rider or two dedicated to a sprinter.
In fact, the team cut loose promising Dutch sprinter David Dekker (to Arkéa Samsic), but the team’s other sprinting talent Olav Kooij will stay in 2023, and will likely see chances in the sprints at either the Giro or Vuelta for his grand tour debut.
Other departures include Mike Teunissen (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Chris Harper (BikeExchange-Jayco), and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-Dstny).
Those four top-level riders and their respective exits also reveal how crowded it’s getting at the top. It’s inevitable that a team as deep with talent as Jumbo-Visma eventually will not find room for everyone.
Some are released because they might not fit in, or they can read the writing on the wall, as was the case with Groenewegen.
Tom Dumoulin retired, leaving the team somewhat stung by his early exit from the sport without him returning to his highest level.
The arrival of Gloag, 21, a promising all-rounder who won a stage at the Tour de l’Avenir, reconfirms the team’s bet on young talent.
Like most of the top teams, Jumbo-Visma continues to bring in young, rising riders and helps guide them through the first years of their careers.
The team also backs a U23 development squad, another affirmation of the team’s investment in young talent.
No one ever expected a former ski jumper or a Danish rider who worked at a fish-packing plant ever to rise to the absolute peak of the WorldTour peloton, and Jumbo-Visma saw a huge payout from those bets on youth.
Jumbo-Visma determined to stay at top
With these select but key moves, Jumbo-Visma will only be stronger in 2023.
Its grand tour and classics program are at the top of sport. The team will bring multiple captains to most of the major WorldTour dates, from across the one-days and monuments to stage races and grand tours.
The team doesn’t lose any of its major stars for 2023, so it will be interesting to watch as the team shifts from being a team on the rise to a team at the top.
Often times staying on top can be harder than getting there.