Glorious return to cyclocross for Van Empel
Fem van Empel has marked her return to the field with a victory. The 21-year-old...
Michel Hessmann sees his strong first year at Jumbo-Visma Development Team rewarded with a contract extension. The German, who won the European Mixed Relay title with the German team last year, wants to continue developing himself with the Jumbo-Visma Development Team in the years to come. We look back and ahead with the nineteen-year-old rider.
Despite the fact that many races were canceled in 2020, Hessmann kept a good feeling about last season. “It started well for our team before the corona period. In Croatia we managed to win twice with Olav and that gave our team a huge boost. Then came the lockdown. Of course I would have preferred to race, but during that period I laid a good foundation for the races that were held from July on.”
After a training camp in Slovenia, the Slovenian race GP Kranj in July ended in the same way: a victory for Olav Kooij. “I really got a kick out of this victory as well. We, as a team, had been looking forward to it. The subsequent Czech Cycling Tour was a great race. There we rode with a team that consisted of professionals and riders from the Development Team. We learned a lot from Pascal Eenkhoorn, Koen Bouwman and Maarten Wynants, like choosing the right position and applying our strengths. Those four stages proved very instructive and are actually indicative of our team. We get the opportunity to learn from professional riders and that is a huge added value for young riders. In many other teams this is not possible. That’s partly why I am in the right place here.”
“During the past year I discovered that I can and must have more confidence in myself. In the autumn, I won the German U23 Climbing Championship, part of the Bundesliga. There I realised that I am more than just a time trialist. I’ll take that confidence with me to this year. Hopefully I can show myself in a nice classic, but I also want to continue to develop in stage races. My time trial remains a strong weapon and I have to keep using it.”
"I feel at home here. I can continue to develop here, and I’m certainly not done learning."
The fact that the Development Team of Team Jumbo-Visma also has confidence in the young German, is proved by his contract extension for one season, up to and including 2022. “When Robbert de Groot called to ask if I wanted to extend my contract, I quickly knew what my answer would be. I didn’t have to think long about that. This contract extension says a lot about the confidence the team has in me. I feel at home here, I can develop myself further and I’m certainly not done learning yet.”
Together with teammate Maurice Ballerstedt, Hessmann forms the German contribution within the Jumbo-Visma Development Team. Sports director Robert Wagner is also of German origin. “He’s kind of a mentor to me. Robert has a lot of experience. It is nice to work with him. We’re often in the car together, for example when Robert takes Maurice and me back to Germany after a race. We also talk on the phone a lot. Just talking about how things are going, small talk. That’s nice. By now I can make myself understood in Dutch, but it’s still nice to be able to speak German sometimes.”