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From drawing board to professional success: Team Jumbo-Visma invests in talent development

From drawing board to professional success: Team Jumbo-Visma invests in talent development

Team Jumbo-Visma strives for the highest achievable every day. Talent development is a top priority in the formation of team manager Richard Plugge. The team has recently set up the so-called Jong Team Jumbo-Visma. In addition, with the arrival of CyclingClassNL, efforts are being made to broaden the talent base in cycling. In this way, the team also hopes to see talents advance toward the absolute top of global cycling.

Many professional cyclists have in common that they made the step to the pro peloton in their youth as a promising talent. Team Jumbo-Visma considers it essential to guide talents at an early stage as comfortably as possible on their way to the elites.

Sporting director Merijn Zeeman also emphasizes this. The 43-year-old Dutchman is one of the founders of the talent program that Team Jumbo-Visma is working on. “In 2020, we started our Development Team. That was a big step toward the ultimate ambitions we have in mind”, Zeeman says. “Together with our Head of Development Robbert de Groot, we are intensively thinking about how we can train talents in the best possible way. In my opinion, an astonishing development has already taken place in the past two years. At the time of writing, considering how many guys have already made it to our World Tour team, it’s something to be proud of. All the coaches and executives involved deserve a compliment for this”, Zeeman says with a smile.

Michel Hessmann

"We provide tailor-made development for each athlete."

Robbert de Groot

De Groot agrees that talent development at Team Jumbo-Visma comes into its own in a good way. “In the long haul, we are trying to establish an organisation where you, as a young rider, get the time to develop yourself. We provide tailor-made development for each athlete. Within the team trajectory, there is an individual trajectory to progress as a rider. Such an individual trajectory provides safety and confidence, which is very important for a young athlete. Riders within our Development Team are given the space and opportunity to become professional cyclists. With their transfer from the U23s to the pros, Mick and Tim van Dijke and Michel Hessmann, among others, are showing once again that this route is paying off. Gijs Leemreize and Olav Kooij have already switched at an earlier stage. That is very inspiring to see.”

CyclingClassNL

Recently, Team Jumbo-Visma started CyclingClassNL in collaboration with the KNWU and NOC*NSF. “That is a joint initiative to scout and train the greatest male and female talents in the Netherlands”, explains sporting director Zeeman. “The ultimate intention is for these talents to flow out to different teams, of which Team Jumbo-Visma may be one. This is an excellent development for cycling in the Netherlands. With the arrival of CyclingClassNL, the Development Team and we have two pillars within the theme of talent development. In addition, we are still intensively involved with the Team Jumbo-Visma Academy. The main thing is to enthuse young cyclists by introducing them to cycling. The Academy also supports local cycling associations.”

Tim van Dijke

Jong Team Jumbo-Visma

The black-and-yellow formation set up the so-called Jong Team Jumbo-Visma at the drawing board. Zeeman explains what the team has in mind with it. “We want to allow young talents to get a taste of cycling at the highest level early in their career. There used to be a more significant gap between the U23 riders and the pros. However, we now try to keep this dividing line as thin as possible. Jong Team Jumbo-Visma consists of riders who excel in our Development Team and young riders who have already made the step to the pros in recent years. We offer them the opportunity to distinguish themselves in competitions at World Tour level. The most important lesson is gaining experience and racing with different tactics. In one race they ride for the win, while in another race they learn a lot from a leader.”

"We have spent a long time putting this puzzle together. It seems everything is coming together now."

Merijn Zeeman

Zeeman is pleased with the development that many youthful riders are experiencing. “We have spent a long time putting this puzzle together. It seems everything is coming together now. We are not only working every day on the present, but also on the years to come. If in the future someone from CyclingClassNL would progress to the absolute top via our Development Team, that would be an amazing milestone.”

Pictures in article: @hardyccphotos 📸

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