It was the cycling transfer of the year. The best Dutch rider must help the largest Dutch team win in a big round. With the Tour de France as the ultimate goal. An interview with the management of Jumbo-Visma about the arrival of Tom Dumoulin: "We still need months for a good plan."
When Jumbo-Visma said "hello" to Tom Dumoulin on Monday at 10.11 with a 52-second movie, Merijn Zeeman was in a full-day meeting about the nutritional strategy during the Vuelta a España, which starts on Saturday and where his team with Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk goes for the overall victory.
In the evening the sporting director had a long telephone conversation "about anything and everything" with Kruijswijk, the rider who finished third last month as absolute leader of Jumbo-Visma in the Tour de France, after which the Tuesday was dominated by Zeeman of coaching meetings and the presentation of the new Jumbo-Visma training team.
"I am not so good at celebrating, but I am good at analyzing," says Zeeman. "On Sunday we were mainly busy preparing the news about the transfer from Dumoulin and for me the next day always starts the next day."
"Don't get me wrong, I am not an ice rabbit. But in the end it is my job within this team to ensure that everyone keeps their feet on the ground and realizes that it is very nice that we are now with Dumoulin, Kruijswijk and Roglic have three classification stops, but it really matters how fast they cycle next July. "
The transfer from Dumoulin (28) is unquestionably a milestone for Jumbo-Visma. But, according to Zeeman and team manager Richard Plugge in an interview at the Jumbo headquarters in Veghel, in many respects the real work is only just beginning.
371Dumoulin to Jumbo-Visma: 'Full battle with INEOS'
Kruijswijk said at the end of the Tour that he thinks that Jumbo-Visma can compete with INEOS in the coming years for the victory in big rounds. Is that the big goal for the next three years?
Zeeman: "That is certainly the objective. And that starts with this Vuelta. Financially we are still not the top team, but we have many people in our team with good ideas and a huge drive. It all starts with a plan. "
Is the arrival of Dumoulin the culmination of that plan?
Plugge: "I would not like to call it a crown, that is only when we actually win a big lap. And I also think that we have been showing for some time that we can bind large riders to us. Tony Martin chose last year for us, just like the megatalents Laurens De Plus and Wout van Aert. "
But Dumoulin is still a bit above that.
Plugge: "That's right, and it is also a milestone in our development that someone like Dumoulin wants to ride with us. But we still have not won that big lap. So we must now put these top riders together into a very close team that will succeed. "
See also: Tour 2019: Jumbo-Visma became a top team in four years
Did you initially ask yourself whether Dumoulin would fit into this team?
Zeeman: "Absolutely, that was the most important decision up front. I was in the mode from the start that the arrival of Dumoulin would mean a lot, because we already have two classification riders with Kruijswijk and Roglic. Dumoulin brings us closer to our ultimate ambition: to win the Tour? "
"But Dumoulin is also a rider who has never been very far from our team. He knows many people from coaching. And our riders Paul Martens and Jos van Emden are good friends with him. There has always been good contact, even then there was still no question of us going to work together. "
What will be the biggest challenge to ensure that it will indeed fit?
Zeeman: "Ultimately, individuals may have to set aside their own ambition to serve the team's interests and to ensure that we as a team win the competition."
"One thing is very important here: this is especially true for the Tour. That is the most important race, absolutely, but there are many other competitions that we have never won and are very keen to win. In the Tour we will have to make choices, but I think that our program is so extensive that our three absolute ranking leaders will always be satisfied. "
Tom Dumoulin will no longer be riding in red-black, but in yellow-black from next year. (Photo: Getty Images)
How did your riders react to the news that Dumoulin will be their new teammate?
Zeeman: "Proud in all aspects, because a rider comes in. But on the other hand also with the question:" what does this mean for me and for my chances? What choices will you make as a leader? " That is of course not something we are going to decide from today to tomorrow. It will take months to make a good plan for that. "
The word 'monkey rock' has often been used this week to outline the situation with you three leaders.
Plugge: "It is only a good situation. Because it can happen that you have an outlier and with a 'lucky' win a big round. But if you as a team want to participate structurally for the overall victory, you have a whole high average level needed. The chance for Roglic, Kruijswijk and Dumoulin to win a big round is greater if they are in a team together and they are all high in the rankings. "
Now it is important to convince them of that.
Plugge: "Of course, before the transfer was made known to some of the monkey rock and we had good and frequent discussions with Dumoulin. It is true that we have to discuss everything very well with each other, but I am confident that that will succeed. "
How important is it to sponsors that a Dutchman wins the Tour on behalf of Jumbo-Visma?
Plugge: "All our sponsors just want to win. And then it doesn't matter if that is with a Slovene, a New Zealander or a Dutchman."
But isn't it a coincidence that a Dutch rider was met with Dumoulin?
Plugge: "Of course it plays a role. But then your next question is: are you going to play Dumoulin next year as the leader in the Tour? The answer to that is: not necessarily. We will really look together to see how we have the greatest chance to win the Tour as a team. "
See also: View the stage plan and the list of participants of the Vuelta