Van Emden: “If I can’t make the difference on the bike anymore then that’s it”

Van Emden: “If I can’t make the difference on the bike anymore then that’s it”

Like Robert Gesink and Steven Kruijswijk, Jos van Emden has also extended his contract with Team Jumbo-Visma for two seasons. “It feels great to support leaders like Primoz or Wout. As long as I can still be of added value on the bike, I want to continue what I’m doing now.”

You are seen as one of the culture carriers of this team. How does that feel to you?
“I feel a bit like a watchdog. The culture carriers make sure that everything stays normal, that things don’t get out of hand. I think it is by behaving in a normal way that we have come so far with this team.”

How have you seen the way of working change over the years?
“Of course a lot has changed in recent years. There’s a world of difference. We are much more performance-oriented. Everyone has a goal they are working towards. Such an approach would also have helped me at the beginning of my career. Back then, people said: ‘Just make sure you have a good winter’ and then you would hear when they needed you. You were thrown in at the deep end. A rider like me must always be ready to do his job. That is different from Robert and Steven of course, who had to do it as a leader. It’s nice that the management listens to the older riders, to know you have a say. As a rider, you shouldn’t be rigid, but think along with them.”

As Dutch time trial champion in the UAE Tour 2021

Did the fact that you are called a culture carrier play a part in extending your contract?
“I hope that is not the main reason for my extension, haha. I just want to perform and add value. I see guarding the culture as a nice bonus. I want to make the difference on the bike. If that is no longer possible then that’s it. If you can make a difference afterwards, that’s a good thing.”

The confidence that you can still make a difference on the bike in the next two years is high.
"Yes, absolutely. The level that I reached in Paris-Nice, for example, confirms this for me. I would like to continue in this way for a few more years. I do see that the time trial discipline has been lifted to a higher level by the new generation. I still approach a time trial in the same way, but the pressure is off. I still go into every time trial trying to get the best result possible, but the chances of beating those guys are a lot smaller.”

Do you get a lot of motivation from riding for the higher goal of the team?
“Yes, definitely! Men like Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert make sure you stay hungry. Also the arrival of Tony Martin three years ago has made me better as a supporting rider. He has not been working specifically with me, but he has made me see on which level I could improve and I think I have done that. I am a guy who often has the same role as Tony and has to take the lead at certain moments. That feels good.”

"Primoz and Wout are the two best leaders I have ever ridden for."

Jos van Emden

Team Jumbo-Visma finished 2020 as the best team in the World Tour. What does that incline?
“A lot of responsibility especially. I really like that. We will continue with that. Primoz and Wout are two supermen to work for. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, but those are the two best leaders I have ever ridden for. Both physically and personally.”

Stage victory in the closing time trial of the Giro d'Italia 2017

Everyone knows they are currently among the best five riders in the world, but you feel they have been the best over the last fifteen years?
“Yes. Physically they are among the best, but as a leader they are also very nice to work for. They are grateful, clear and they often finish off the work of the domestiques. That makes it beautiful, of course. When you sit at the table after the stage, they don’t present themselves as the leader, but simply as Primoz or Wout, the same as everyone else. They are just like all the other riders. Of course there can be a difference in hierarchy, but at such a moment it is nice that they are just the same. I like that and that is also part of guarding the culture. Basically, everyone should act in a normal way. You have to work hard together. Without each other, you won’t make it.”

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