Will Jumbo Visma be the Best Team at the 2020 Tour de France?
Can they continue to roll?
The squad sponsored by Rabobank for many years and the Dutch national lottery for a couple more was once seen as the Netherlands’ national team and honed its young talents. Now racing as Jumbo Visma, it has become a multinational operation. In 1996, taking the reins from the previous sponsors of the teams formed by Jan Raas, such as Kwantum-Hallen (from 1984, the penultimate season as a rider for the five-time winner of the Amstel Gold Race), Superconfex (from 1987), Buckler (1990), WordPerfect (1993) and Novell (1995), the bank and its orange jerseys hinting towards its Dutch origins signed up for a long journey with the Tour de France before the financiers threw in the towel at the end of 2012. Belkin, an American manufacturer specialising in Internet connection devices and networks, stepped up to the plate and enabled the team to survive in a country crazy about cycling and fiercely loyal to the Tour de France.
For a long time, the team focused on stage wins with classics specialists, mainly from the Netherlands, before boosting its ambitions with the addition of foreign sprinters, climbers and power riders such as Robbie McEwen, Óscar Freire, Michael Rasmussen, Denis Menchov, Juan Manuel Gárate and Luis León Sánchez with mixed success, before rediscovering its knack for nurturing the rising stars of Dutch cycling. The team failed to tap the full potential of Bauke Mollema, Moreno Hofland and Wilco Kelderman, who left for other teams, as did Lars Boom, who nevertheless had an apotheotic day on the cobblestone stage to Arenberg in 2014. Despite finishing sixth in 2015, right behind the “Big Four” (Froome, Quintana, Nibali and Contador) and Alejandro Valverde, Robert Gesink failed to realise the Tour de France potential he once seemed to have.
Meanwhile, Steven Kruijswijk, who came tantalizingly close to victory in the 2016 Giro, and Primož Roglič have developed into serious contenders and finished fifth and fourth in 2018, one year before Kruijswijk finally took the bottom step of the podium. Two years ago, the Dutchman put Team Sky under pressure on the road to the Alpe d’Huez with a daring move on the Col de la Croix de Fer, while Roglič, who in 2017 become the first ever Slovenian rider to win a stage after crowning the Galibier in first place, claimed another one in 2018 with an attack on the Aubisque. He then went on to prove in the 2019 Giro (third) and Vuelta (first) that he has what it takes to conquer the yellow jersey that his teammate Mike Teunissen held for two days last year. Jumbo–Visma is betting the farm on the general classification after signing Tom Dumoulin, who finished second in the Tour in his last participation in 2018, as the third component of its three-pronged attack plan. As a result, Dylan Groenewegen, one of the fastest sprinters in the world, who took the Champs-Élysées stage in 2017, tasted victory in the cathedral cities of Chartres and Amiens in 2018 and raised his arms in Chalon-sur-Saône in 2019, will have to watch the race on TV.
JUMBO VISMA TOUR DE FRANCE 2020 ROSTER
- Tom DUMOULIN
- Amund JANSEN
- Tony MARTIN
- Robert GESINK
- Wout VAN AERT
- George BENNETT
- Primoz ROGLIC
- Sepp KUSS
RBA/TDF Photos: Bettini