Team Jumbo-Visma goes to the Tour de France with a ninth man
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After a turbulent season, Team Jumbo-Visma ended this year as the number 1 in the UCI world rankings. Dealing with unexpected circumstances is part of the sport. What effect has this year had on the commercial goals? Together with commercial manager Sander Kruis we look back on the challenges and the forced deviation from the strategy.
For most companies, commercial goals are mostly based on a stable economic situation and a somewhat predictable expectation for the future. This approach is no longer sufficient under the current circumstances. How do you deal with that? Sander Kruis, commercially responsible, explains how the past year went behind the scenes at Team Jumbo-Visma.
Kruis: “Team Jumbo-Visma is still in a growth phase. Riders are getting better, the value of the team is increasing and the commercial challenge remains to generate more and more income. At the beginning of this year, one of our objectives was to keep growing; to close new sponsorships and expand current partnerships. Due to the coronavirus, this came under pressure. We had to pull out all the stops for a few months to offer alternatives to our partners. Certainly at the beginning this was at the expense of our search for new partners.”
What to do when your main activity ceases?
“We did everything possible to stay in the picture. Online competitions, meet-and-greets and group rides on Zwift, so that riders could still get on the bike together from behind a screen. We even launched a platform called ‘Stay Safe Together’, filled with content about maintaining your bike, training tips, interviews and reviews of previous seasons.”
"The great thing is that measurements showed that we had achieved more visibility in April of this year than in April 2019. Even though there were no races and normally the classics are ridden during that month. It shows how well we handled that. Eventually, the situation normalised for us fairly quickly. You can also see in the bicycle industry that things are going well. With the women’s team we have an extra squad. As far as the objective to grow as a whole is concerned, we have certainly succeeded, in spite of everything.”
Every company has had its challenges this year. Especially at the beginning of this year everyone was busy solving their own problems. Logically, it was an unknown situation for everyone. Sander says that in the end, partners certainly appreciated what Team Jumbo-Visma did for their partners, even though this only became apparent later in the year.
‘’Rather than playing catch-up we have been proactive. Not just on the commercial department, but throughout the entire company. The way the team has prepared for the restart of the season, how we have been engaged in material development and in improving nutrition. We have continued to develop in all these areas. We acted instead of reacted. That has certainly benefited the relationship with our partners and prevented questions afterwards.”
Trust and perseverance
Even though you have many long-term contracts, as an organisation you are fortunate to have partners who continue to support you. That is exactly why true collaboration is so important. But that does not happen automatically.
“Of course, we had to convince them of our plan not to put our foot on the brakes, but to continue going full steam ahead. Extending contracts and bringing in new riders, for example, is necessary to keep growing and improve. Ultimately, we have proved that. Our main sponsors have fully supported us and that has brought us to where we are today: the number 1 team in the world.’’
Despite the turbulent year, the credo of ‘winning together’ remains valid. Even in the most uncertain times, Team Jumbo-Visma can rely on sponsors and partners. Certainty that has allowed the team to continue to focus on achieving success. The team is eagerly looking forward to a new season with an even bigger and more complete team.