Team Jumbo–Visma has been the most important cycling team in the Netherlands for years. (You may know this squad as Team LottoNL–Jumbo, or by the past sponsors of Belkin, Blanco and Rabobank.) In 2018, the elite Team had a lot of success with ace sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, and also booked good general classification (GC) results in stage races, thanks to Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic. This team does well in a wide range of disciplines, so it’s high time we put a few of the key riders in the spotlight for the 2019 season.
A couple of years ago, Steven Kruijswijk was well on the way to victory in the Giro d’Italia. But halfway into the third week, as he began the descent to Risoul, he crashed on snowy roads—Vincenzo Nibali attacked and won the GC. This was a very bitter moment for the Dutch stage racer who is often at his best during the third week of the major Grand Tours. In 2018 he demonstrated a return to form by finishing in the top five of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour de France. Combining those two Grand Tours worked well for Kruijswijk in 2018, so he is set to repeat it in 2019.
Steven Kruijswijk on the attack during the 19th stage of the Tour de France 2018. Photograph: Cor Vos.
Primoz Roglic has been riding for this team since 2016, when it was Team Jumbo. He came into the team as a time trial specialist, but in 2018 he improved in just about every discipline. In that year he won the 19th stage of the Tour de France, and ended fourth in the general classification. He also won two week-long races: the Tour of Romandie and the Tour of Slovenia. In 2019 he is riding the combination of the Giro and the Tour de France—and to prepare for that he will ride the Tour of Romandie once again.
Dylan Groenewegen is one of the best sprinters in the world today. In 2018 he won two stages in the Tour de France, and there could have been more if he had managed to stay on his bike during the cobbled stage. An injury resulting from a fall messed up his programme a bit, but he did manage to recover and get some good results in the late-season races. This year he will ride two Grand Tours: the Tour of Spain and the Tour de France. There are a lot of sprint stages in the Tour de France in 2019, which should give this Amsterdammer a chance to shine. The Tour of Spain will be a tougher challenge, however.
Dylan Groenewegen winning the seventh stage in the Tour de France 2018. Photograph: Cor Vos.
Wout van Aert
Wout van Aert officially moves teams to Team Jumbo–Visma on the 1st of March, 2019. All eyes will be on the young Belgian who hasn’t had the easiest period in recent months, due to contractual challenges. The cyclocrosser showed good form at the beginning of the road racing season in 2018 and is likely to want to show what he is worth in 2019 all the more. We will see him in action during the Strade Bianche, Milan–San Remo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris–Roubaix, the Amstel Gold Race and the Critérium de Dauphine. We rate his chances particularly highly during the races with some rough road sections.
Wout van Aert during the world cup cyclocross race in Hoogerheide 2019. Photograph: Cor Vos.
Tony Martin’s best years are clearly behind him, but the former world time trial champion is still an excellent rider to send to the front of the pack in order to inflict pain on the whole peloton. He’s therefore the perfect person to use in the sprint train to lead Dylan Groenewegen out, or to chase down breakaway riders on behalf of Jumbo–Visma. And he could still play a role in time trials, both individually and in the team event. He’s going to the Tour de France, but we’re not sure about the rest of his race diary.
It’s quite hard to choose specific riders from this team: they also have other excellent riders like Robert Gesink, George Bennet and Danny van Poppel who are also men to keep an eye out for, as well as a couple of youngsters who may surprise us in the mountains, like Koen Bouwman and Antwan Tolhoek. All in all, a very solid squad.