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Team Jumbo-Visma has launched an initiative that aims to get more young people involved in cycling ánd to develop talent into a successful professional cyclist.
The plan, which was presented to the media this morning at the Shimano Experience Center in Valkenburg, includes school projects, club support and a new development team for cycling talent under 23 and cyclecross riders. Jumbo and Visma support the new youth program as an extended part of the sponsorship.
“We aim to create a sustainable cycling program where we inspire people to join sports and develop talents on their way to the top, contributing to building a healthier and more active society”, said Richard Plugge, managing director of Team Jumbo-Visma. “Our plan is based on two pillars: training and growth. Do not recruit from the same pool but expand the pool. It has to be a pyramid. From bottom to top: schools, above that the cycling clubs, then the development team and a few might be able to join our World Tour team.”
Collaboration with local communities, schools and cycling clubs are essential stepping stones in realising the full youth plan. The initiative sheds light on important issues such as rising health costs, an increase in obesity among adolescents and a decrease in sports and cycling participation among youth in the Netherlands.
“By focusing on grass root activities, we hope to connect young people to the sport of cycling from the ground up. A wide range of activities in local communities all over the Netherlands, aiming to inspire and attract youth to the sport at an early stage, are part of the program”, Plugge continued.
Innovative digital activities such as VR cycling and stationary bike competitions with television screens will be part of engaging youth in the program. More traditional cycling activities, aiming to get young people familiar with race bicycles, will be held in collaboration with teachers in selected schools. These activities will also be held at Jumbo shops or in their immediate vicinity.
"The intention is that all Dutch cycling will benefit"
Apart from the focus on grass root activities, promoting activities in schools, cycling clubs and local communities, there will be a development and cyclecross team. It will consist of twelve to sixteen international and mainly Dutch riders. The under-23 team starts at January 1st. It will benefit from a performance program following the same principles as the World Tour Team. The other initiatives will be launched in the course of this year like a program to inspire 15 to 18 year olds to start cycling.
“There will be some kind of roadshow, we will go into the country”, says Merijn Zeeman, sportive director of Team Jumbo-Visma. “Talent development is important to us: we are a Dutch team; we want to develop good Dutch riders. At the same time, we exist by the grace of fans, of everyone who cares about cycling. The intention is that all Dutch cycling will benefit. This is the start of a project with a lot of ambition. We don't have the pretense that we'll be able to solve the problem of growth for a while. We welcome any initiative to encourage cycling. This is our way to take responsibility.”
“We are excited to take part in such an important and inspiring initiative. As a large corporation, we believe it is our responsibility to contribute positively to the societies where we operate. By supporting the youth program, we take part in promoting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging sports participation among young people, issues that are close to our heart”, said Visma CEO Øystein Moan.