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Meet Jumbo-Visma’s next big thing: David Dekker

Dutch rookie will see plenty of action in the next months at the northern classics and Giro d'Italia.

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Jumbo-Visma‘s talent factory has been busy the past few years cranking out the stars. Primož Roglič, Sepp Kuss, Dylan Groenewegen, and Wout van Aert are just a few who’ve come through the Dutch assembly line.

Here’s a name that could soon be added to the list: David Dekker.

Anyone watching the UAE Tour last month got a glimpse of the WorldTour rookie’s potential. He’s fast, explosive, and poised for big things. At least that’s according to team insiders, who see him on a fast track for 2021.

“He is fast, smart and a really strong rider,” Jumbo-Visma’s sport director Arthur van Dongen told VeloNews. “He can be a rider for the classics and the sprints.”

Also read: Mathieu van der Poel just can’t help himself at UAE Tour

Dekker impressed in his WorldTour debut, with two second places — behind Mathieu van der Poel and Sam Bennett, respectively — and a fourth-place against some of the top sprinters in the bunch in the three sprints he contested. At 6-foot-2, the 23-year-old Dutch rider came home with an encouraging souvenir with the points jersey.

“He showed a really strong performance at the UAE Tour with some nice sprints,” van Dongen said. “He was a nice surprise, but we knew he was strong.”

Dekker, who is the son of former pro Erik Dekker, races next at the Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne on March 24. After that, it’s a busy northern classics schedule, with E3 Saxo Bank, Gent-Wevelgem, and Tour of Flanders on the docket, before a planned grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia.

Dekker, who was third in the 2020 edition of Le Samyn while racing with SEG Academy, was one of the top recruits coming out of the 2020 U23 class. Dekker said his father, who raced under a former iteration of the team at Rabobank, did not push him to sign with Jumbo-Visma.

“As a sprinter, I believe this team is the best place for me to develop. With Dylan Groenewegen they have shown that they can do that very well, that they know how it should be done,” Dekker said in an interview at the team’s training camp in January. “My father played no role in my choice, however. It is a happy coincidence, but it was no reason for me to join this team.”

Also read: No grand tours in return for Dylan Groenewegen

With Jumbo-Visma’s marquee sprinter Groegenwegen sidelined until May in the wake of last year’s controversial crash at the Tour de Pologne, Dekker is finding more space to test himself perhaps earlier than expected. The team is not piling on any pressure, but Dekker seems ambitious enough to take full advantage of any opportunity he gets.

In the opening stage of the UAE Tour, Dekker survived the crosswinds to ride into the winning front group, and only van der Poel could deny him in a frenetic charge to the line. Three days later, Dekker’s speed was on display when he came out of a boxed position along the fences to finish second to Bennett.

In both sprints, he had the nose and legs to put himself on the wheel of the fastest rider in the bunch. Now the hard part is working well with teammates and then having the leg speed to come around for the victory. The early results are more than encouraging for everyone inside the Jumbo-Visma bus.

“He is really a strong man on the cobbles, on the echelon races, and he’s also a very good sprinter,” van Dongen said in a telephone interview. “He will race on the cobbles this spring and then we will go to the Giro with him. The goal, there, is to develop David as a sprinter in the first 10 days of the race, and then fight for a good GC with George Bennett.”

Dekker will have plenty of chances in the next few months. Based on his promising debut, it might not be very long before he joins Jumbo-Visma’s winner’s circle.

David Dekker of Team Jumbo-Visma wins the points jersey at the UAE Tour. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)