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Team Jumbo-Visma's performance staff is at full strength for the new cycling season. Norwegian Espen Aareskjold has joined the team, and Richard Plugge's cycling squad can also look forward to the knowledge and expertise of swimming coach Jacco Verhaeren. The successful coach will provide advice and support in the background.
As national coach of the French swimmers, Verhaeren's focus is on the Paris Olympics, but the Dutchman is a firm believer in the cross-fertilisation of different sports. This is how he and Jumbo-Visma came together some time ago, says Merijn Zeeman, the cycling team's sportive director. "Over the past few years, I have often exchanged ideas with Jacco", Zeeman says. "After our best season, we have to keep looking for improvements and new insights. Together with Mathieu Heijboer, I have come to the conclusion that Jacco can provide us with these new ideas and different insights from another sport. We will start with a modest collaboration and hopefully develop it into something more."
"After our best season, we have to keep looking for improvements and new insights"
For Verhaeren, this goes both ways. "Sharing knowledge is the reason for this collaboration", he says. "I want to get to know cycling better and will provide my input on performance processes and training, among other things. But not on a full-time basis, as I am fully committed to the French swimming team in the run-up to the Olympic Games. However, I am happy to shed some light on the current performance approach of Team Jumbo-Visma. It is great to think along with the most successful cycling team. I do this from a swimming perspective. What Team Jumbo-Visma does with my advice is up to them."
Verhaeren has had good experiences in exchanging knowledge with other sports and industries. "I like to immerse myself in Team Jumbo-Visma's approach because I can benefit from it. The link between equipment, nutrition, training and race strategy is fascinating. It inspires me a lot", Verhaeren says.
"Sharing knowledge is the reason for this collaboration"
In contrast to the swimming coach, Aareskjold will be working full-time in Heijboer and Zeeman's performance team. "I am really looking forward to it", says the Norwegian, who comes from Uno-X. "I have followed the team with great interest over the past few years. They are leading in all areas. Not only in terms of great performances but also in the way they think and do things. When I got the chance to be a part of it, I didn't hesitate for a moment", says Aareskjold.
"Espen is a true professional", Heijboer says. "The results he has achieved with his riders, such as Per Strand Hagenes as a junior, are proof of that. Talking to him has also convinced us that he can make us better. We are delighted that he is coming to strengthen us."