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Jumbo-Visma relishes future battles with Remco Evenepoel as GC landscape reshapes

'Evenepoel is one of the best GC riders in the world': Team director welcomes rivalry as Bora, Quick-Step burst onto grand tour scene.

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Jumbo-Visma is relishing seeing a reshaping of the grand tour landscape as it heads into 2023.

The team of Primož Roglič and Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard is braced and ready to get better in a series of future battles with archrival Tadej Pogačar and newly crowned world and Vuelta a España champion Remco Evenepoel.

“Evenepoel will make the competition even tougher in future,” Jumbo-Visma director Merijn Zeeman told VeloNews.

“He’s a very interesting rider and has an incredible palmares already. Even at this age, he had an incredible season. I have lots of respect for that. I think he will win a lot in the coming years.”

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Evenepoel burst into the big time and entered the top echelon of pro cycling in 2022.

The young Belgian joined Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault in winning a grand tour, monument, and world title in the same season as he blew the doors down on pro cycling.

Evenepoel ended Roglič’s three-year run in the red jersey and is already being touted as a grand tour force for the distant future.

Despite only two grand tour starts, Soudal-Quick-Step’s pocket-rocket star is now mentioned alongside fellow Gen-Z giants like Pogačar and Vingegaard as the GC contender of reference.

“We will face tough competition with him, and to be honest I’m also looking forward to that,” Zeeman said.

“For example, people say the 2023 Giro will be for a TT specialist, and everyone is already calling the name of ‘Remco.’ His TT qualities are insane, they’re so good. And he also improved in the mountains big time. For me, he is one of the best GC riders in the world logically.”

Evenepoel’s dominant ride through his first-ever Vuelta – both before and Roglič crashed out – set Belgian media ablaze and saw pundits put the 22-year-old as a top favorite for next season’s TT-heavy Giro d’Italia.

“Primož and Jonas will have to be really, really at their best to be him in the future,” Zeeman said. “Even then, it will be hard to beat him. So yeah, the coming years will be a big show in the grand tours, I think.”

‘The competition makes you stronger’

Jai Hindley put Bora-Hansgrohe on the grand tour map when he won the 2022 Giro. (Photo: Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma hasn’t yet laid out its grand tour masterplan for the new season as it picks through programs for Vingegaard, Roglič, and new recruit Wilco Kelderman.

Zeeman said the task was all the more complex in the face of an increasingly intense GC scene.

Bora-Hansgrohe landed its first three-week victory when Jai Hindley won the Giro d’Italia in May, and Quick-Step broke its classics mold with red jersey triumph in the late summer.

Meanwhile, UAE Emirates added yet more heavy artillery in the transfer season, and Ineos Grenadiers commands a decade of Tour-winning know-how and a roster rich in talent.

“There’s rivalry and there’s respect among the grand tour teams,” Zeeman said. “In the end, it’s the competition that makes you stronger. But if you look at the world tour ranking in the last few years, and the last year, we are the number one team, and we are also proud of that.”

Jumbo-Visma isn’t sitting still after it topped the UCI points-tables in both 2020 and 2022.

The Dutch squad’s dedication to development saw it sign home stars Kelderman and Dylan Van Baarle in the summer, and Zeeman told VeloNews the team’s commerce arm is working to reinforce Jumbo-Visma’s sponsor stable for future years.

“We know that now with this success, we will be hunted, and that people and teams will try to beat us. So we have to improve again, and get better every day and every year,” Zeeman said.

“We have work to do because UAE, Ineos, Bora, and more teams are trying to take our place. And now Quick-Step too. But that’s nice in sports. That’s competition. That makes us sharp and motivated to improve again.”