From Blanco to yellow: Plugge realises ambition with Tour de France overall victory

From Blanco to yellow: Plugge realises ambition with Tour de France overall victory

The overall victory and the polka dot jersey for Jonas Vingegaard, the green jersey for Wout van Aert and six stage victories. The 2022 Tour de France was a great success for Team Jumbo-Visma. General manager Richard Plugge realises a long-standing ambition by standing on the highest step of the final podium in Paris. Time to look back and ahead with the manager of the Dutch cycling team.

How would you describe this Tour victory? A milestone for the team?
“This is our tenth Tour de France as Blanco Pro Cycling Team. I would certainly describe it as a milestone. We started as Blanco to give cycling back to the fans. I think we had a good battle with the competition this Tour. The fans watched a cycling show. Going home with these three jerseys means we can make our goals and dreams come true. The goal of winning yellow and green has yielded even more. The polka dot jersey and the stage wins have been added to that.”

Ten years of Blanco, the start of your project. When did the idea arise that the overall Tour victory is a goal? Ten years ago or, for example, only halfway through the project?
“The first years were a matter of survival. The most important thing then was ensuring we kept our team afloat. Thanks to the Van Eerd family of Jumbo Supermarkets, we laid the foundation for a long-term vision. That was around 2016 and with the arrival of Visma in the winter of 2018, we could accelerate further. From those years on, we formulated the dream. At the time, we said that we wanted to be on the podium in the Tour in 2020. We already achieved that in 2019. Then we started looking further and we set new goals. It was the moment we said: we want to win the Tour. That has now been achieved.”

You used the term “total cycling” for this team a few years ago. Is that something you experienced this Tour and is it a goal?
“I gave an interview to L'Équipe over the winter. I said I wanted to create an analogue for Dutch total football. That is very appealing to the fans. I think we can speak of total cycling this Tour. An example of this is Wout van Aert, but also Christophe Laporte, Jonas Vingegaard and all others who have made a major contribution to this. Don’t forget Primoz Roglic, who gave everyone a great day during the stage to the Col du Granon. That was a great result for us but also great for the fans. It was a fantastic stage. So I think we succeeded in establishing total cycling. I think that’s at least as important. We started with Blanco in the most difficult period in cycling. At the time, I wanted to give something back to the fans and make sure they would enjoy it again. I think that has worked out in the last few years, with our Tour victory being the highlight.”

We have heard many people say that this was the most beautiful Tour in decades.
“That confirms what I just said. I would love it if people looked at it this way. This is how cycling should be. Also kudos to Tadej Pogacar. He kept attacking, just like us. That is the beauty of this generation of cyclists. They keep going. Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel are examples of this. This generation of cyclists keeps attacking, which is extremely enjoyable for the cycling enthusiast. I am, of course, also a fan.”

Can you also take the Tour victory as a kind of closure? In other words: what’s next?
“No, this is the beginning. Of course we want to continue. We have reached the highest achievable goal, and it would be nice if we could do this more often. For me, next year’s Tour starts next Monday and so does the plan for future years. I think it includes many more great things.”

You have also said that you want to be the best team in the world.
“In 2020, I said that in five years, in 2025, people would conclude that Team Jumbo-Visma has been the best team in the world in recent years. That means number one in the World Tour ranking, but it’s just a number. People should feel that we were a cool team that won everything and attacked everywhere. I would like it if the fans have that feeling and consider us the best team based on that.”

You said that in 2020. If you had to draw up a mid-term review, what would it be?
“I think we are on the right track. After this Tour, we will probably be at the top of the team ranking again.”

And on Monday, the future begins.
“Yes, then the planning begins. I want to dream with a deadline, so I want to put the dreams on paper with everyone in the team and then determine when we want to achieve it.”

A few words about this Tour de France. How do you look back on the past few weeks?
“We had been preparing for this Tour de France for almost a year. We prepared everything down to the last detail. When I see how the riders have executed all these plans and scenarios, I enjoy that process the most. It brings tears to my eyes. The victory is nice and our goal, but I especially got goosebumps from what Primoz Roglic did for Jonas Vingegaard in the stage where Jonas won yellow. That process is what I call cycling. It was so beautiful to see. The stage to the Col du Granon was the ultimate proof that we can achieve good results with plans made a while ago.”

"It’s beautiful to see that the people in the organisation are so committed"

Richard Plugge

Is there anything else we should specifically mention in the Tour’s aftermath?
“It all started with Karel van Eerd, Ton van Veen and Robert van de Wallen. They helped lay the foundation. Moreover, the enormous involvement of the people within this organisation. That is reflected, for example, in the cobbled stage and on this Tour’s hottest days. Countless people signed up to hand out water bottles and spare wheels. It’s beautiful to see that the people in the organisation are so committed.”

The people’s involvement is also the basis of success?
“Yes, of course. Kudos to Merijn Zeeman for keeping everyone involved in the process. He ensures that everyone wants to be involved in the process and is doing their bit. That involvement is outstanding.”

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