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From 21 to 27 March, Team Jumbo-Visma will be at the start of the Volta a Catalunya. On 22 March, Young Jumbo-Visma will start a five-day race in Italy, the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
The Volta a Catalunya includes two arrivals uphill on the third and fourth day. On the final day there is the traditional stage ending on the city circuit in Barcelona with six ascents of the Alto de Montjuïc. The other days will also be tough and hilly, with few chances for the sprinters.
According to sports director Marc Reef, the course offers opportunities for a good final classification with Sam Oomen. "Sam is on the way back after a difficult 2019 and 2020. In Valencia he has already ridden well. Due to illness, he has not been able to ride a few races, but Catalonia is a course that suits his qualities. It's a great opportunity for him to see what he can do in a World Tour race of this level."
The team aims for a nice classification with Steven Kruijswijk as well. "Steven has had a good winter and preparation. Until the crash in Paris-Nice last week, everything went well for him. He regained the good feeling and we will have to wait and see how he will perform."
The same applies to David Dekker. "The course has four tough stages that may end in a sprint. If David proves to be in good shape, he should be able to handle that. But because of his crash in Valencia, we don't know if he will really be able to sprint."
For Oomen and Tom Dumoulin, the Volta a Catalunya is good preparation for the Giro. Reef: "They can ride finals there, which is good for the feeling. They can compete against the world's top riders and gain race rhythm."
Reef is also applying the same objectives to Coppi e Bartali, where Jong Jumbo-Visma will be at the start. "The young riders in that race will also be able to ride finals. In other races, they often have to serve as domestiques, but now everyone will get the chance to show themselves. With a view to the future, it is essential that they can race freely. Talent development is one of our main goals. That's why we are going to Italy with a young selection."
The focus will not be on performance. "The boys have to take steps in their personal development. Good results are not important, but it would be a nice bonus if they perform well. That gives confidence and motivates the rider and the others around him. In the process of getting better, they must develop as individuals and as a group and the result is of secondary importance."
Mick van Dijke
Loe van Belle