FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Team Sunweb is celebrating gold medals in both the men’s and women’s team time trials at the world road championships. The feat is even more incredible considering the outfit’s humble beginnings and the big-budget teams it faced in Bergen, Norway Sunday.
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The men’s team, led by Tom Dumoulin, blasted ahead of BMC Racing and Sky with Chris Froome and its 32-million-dollar budget. The women put 12 seconds into rival Boels-Dolmans. It was the first time Sunweb’s men’s or women’s team medalled in the event, and both toppled established teams in Norway.
“It’s crazy,” said Team Sunweb’s Dumoulin. “First the women, and now us. It’s crazy. The team was so homogenous. It was absolutely amazing.”
Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Giro this May. The team celebrated again in July in the Tour de France when Michael Matthews and Warren Barguil each won two stages, as well as the points and mountains classifications, respectively.
Sunweb is one of only four top teams running men’s and women’s programs. Next year, Spanish team Movistar will include a women’s team as well. Sunweb is an example Movistar could follow given its interwoven groups.
“There is cooperation between the men’s and the women’s team,” Ellen van Dijk said. “We are here together, we flew together to this race. We share everything, we share the bus, we share the coaches.
“It’s a nice atmosphere to be with the men’s team here; it’s also inspirational. I hope it’s also inspirational for them that we won. Yeah, it gives a little bit of an extra boost, I think.”
The two teams grew side-by-side to achieve the double-gold in Bergen. The men’s team was a Japanese/Dutch mix, racing in the second division and sponsored by Skil power tools and Shimano bike components. In 2009, Kenny Van Hummel led the team to victories in .1 and .HC ranked races.
It fought to receive wildcard invitations to the Vuelta a España and eventually, the Tour de France in 2012. It also faced challenges finding sponsors. Also in 2012, it raced as Project 1t4i before petroleum company Argos came along as sponsor.
The team, going through sponsors Giant and Alpecin, reached full-speed signing Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb from HTC-Highroad for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, respectively. Warren Barguil joined in 2013. Several Americans have also called the team home: Ian Boswell, Tom Peterson, Lawson Craddock, Caleb Fairly, Carter Jones, and Chad Haga.
The UCI re-introduced the team time trial in 2012 for trade teams. For years, BMC Racing and Quick-Step dominated the men’s event. Specialized-Lululemon and Boels did the same on the women’s side. Team Orica came close to the double in 2014, winning silver medals. Only Sunweb, with its slow building process, has succeed in putting all the pieces in place.
“Of course after the victory of the women it was already amazing, so we took that spirit and also some information into the men’s race,” coach Adriaan Helmantel said.
“It is a really big day for the team, here with the men’s and women’s teams working together. Everybody worked so hard on all the details and that all fell into place.”