This Latin maxim (I came, I saw, I conquered) dates back as far as pre-Christian times. But in recent cycling seasons it also seemed to apply to Team Jumbo-Visma's tactics and was certainly the guiding motive of Merijn Zeeman, the cycling team's sporting director. In the book "The Plan," Nando Boers, after having had the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the Dutch cycling team Team Jumbo-Visma for three years, reports on the team's very structured approach in a very readable way. The book was published at the end of June 2023. What took place after that only further confirmed the absolute hegemony of the Dutch cycling team.

The impressive figures of 2023

In total, the team recorded 69 victories, 21 more than in 2022. Last year, with 48 victories, they still had to share first place in the victory standings with UAE Team Emirates. In total, they achieved 127 podium finishes and there were 15 different riders who scored a win. Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič achieved 15 wins, 4 less than WorldTour victory king Jasper Philipsen, and Olav Kooij 13. They had 2 Dutch champions in their ranks, 2 Hungarian, 1 European and 1 Belgian. Very impressive numbers indeed.

Winning the grand tours

The most striking result, of course, was that the 2023 team won all three grand tours. That unique trilogy was achieved with three different riders. Primož Roglič won the Giro d ‘Italia, Jonas Vingegaard the Tour de France and their main man Sepp Kuss the Vuelta Ciclista a España. In doing so, they wrote sports history once again because never before had a team succeeded.

Book cover "Het plan"
Winners of the three grand tours © ASO/Sprint Cycling Agency

The ultimate result in the Tour of Spain

After winning the sixth stage, Sepp Kuss emerged at the top of the general classification. His seventh place in stage eight on the Xorret de Cati allowed him to don the red leader’s jersey. He was allowed to wear it, thanks to the favor factor for the hard work he had done for his leaders in the past, until the end in Madrid. The other two riders who flanked him on the podium were his teammates Vingegaard and Roglič. In doing so, the team once again left something special for eternity.

But nice was also, after it appeared that the previous winner of the Vuelta and top favorite Remco Evenepoel could not live up to that role, that he could still finish his Tour of Spain very successfully with three stage wins and the mountain jersey. Jumbo-Visma controlled the race in such a way that they made sure he always stayed at a safe distance in the general classification.

Still some cracks

When you have already won the Tour of Spain three times, like Primož Roglič, you naturally start as one of the top favorites. But when the race took an unexpected turn in the 8th stage, it seemed difficult for him to resign himself to that anyway. But in the end, as can be expected of a pro rider, he settled into his (bik)role. After the Vuelta, it appeared that he would not be putting out his current contract until the end of 2025 after all and would be making the move to BORA-hansgrohe. In doing so, he will go for the absolute leading role and the win in the Tour de France. Because that is the remaining main goal for him. In addition, he apparently wants to avoid a possible repetition of a race like in Spain.

Sepp Kuss puts on the leader's jersey for the first time in the Vuelta © ASO/Sprint Cycling Agency
Winner eighth stage Vuelta Primož Roglič © ASO/Sprint Cycling Agency

There is no measure of Kooij and van Aert at the Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain was held at the same time as the Tour of Spain. This eight-day race always guarantees beautiful images of the English landscapes and historic villages. Olav Kooij and Wout van Aert, the 2021 winner, showed there once again how strong the team is in width. They went home with four stage wins and the points jersey for Kooij and one stage and the second overall win for van Aert. Afterwards, it turned out that this race was the very last that their master mechanic Nathan van Hooydonck rode. Unfortunately, for health reasons, he had to end his cycling career abruptly.

The kings of the VAM mountain

In September, the European Championships were scheduled in the Dutch province of Drenthe with a finish on the Col du VAM, the Drenthe landfill. With an average gradient of 10% and a 150-meter boulder strip, that’s quite a gut-biter that had to be climbed six times in the final. Despite this being a Nations Cup, Jumbo-Visma once again proved how strong the team is. With an impressive 12 km solo, Frenchman Christophe Laporte narrowly beat our compatriot Wout van Aert and Dutchman Olav Kooij to take the European title. Once again a complete Jumbo-Visma podium.

Jumbo-Visma dictates again in the Coppa Bernocchi

Wout van Aert used a number of Italian autumn races as his final step in preparation for the World Gravel Championships. He dropped the final monument of the season, the Tour of Lombardy, for that. One of those autumn races was the 104th Coppa Bernocchi, which was won by Remco Evenepoel in 2021. After strong teamwork by Tiesj Benoot (sixth) and Jan Tratnik (ninth), among others, van Aert managed to win the race convincingly after a long sprint. With that, another compatriot stood on the top step of the podium.

What will the year 2024 bring?

A repeat of last season is well nigh impossible. According to Merijn Zeeman, that is not the goal. ‘What was good enough last year is no longer good enough this year.’ ‘One of the goals is, among other things, to get Olav Kooij to win a stage in a major tour.’ The team will appear in the cycling peloton under a new name due to Jumbo dropping out as main sponsor: Team Visma|Lease a Bike. ‘Thanks to Visma and Lease a bike, the team has the means to further develop and improve,’ said general manager Richard Plugge.

Surprising transition

Just before the first training camp for the new season in Denia, Spain, we were surprised by the news that our compatriot Cian Uijtdebroeks is making the switch from BORA-hansgrohe. “We have been following Cian since his junior days,” explained sporting director Merijn Zeeman. “When the opportunity came up to contract him from December 1, we didn’t hesitate for a moment. Cian is a perfect match for our team. He is extremely eager to develop himself in all areas. We are glad he chose us and our approach. In the coming years the focus will be on getting better and growing. He can learn from our top riders like Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss. We see in Cian a future leader of our team”.

Winner of Coppa Bernocchi, Wout van Aert © Coppa Bernocchi

Text: Rens Klaasse

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