Every so often a team becomes totally dominant within their sport. We’ve seen it with the All Blacks in rugby union, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in Formula One, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United over the first two decades of the English Premier League. Now, having ridden off with the big three jerseys at the 2022 edition of the Tour de France, the riders of Team Jumbo-Visma may be about to cement their place as the racing outfit to beat this year – and beyond.
With the season already underway and iconic races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix taking place in early April, all eyes will be on the increasingly influential Dutch team. And if you want to follow Jumbo-Visma and their rivals as they take on Monuments, stage races and the Grand Tours, GCN+ is the place to be. As well as giving you the best roadside views of the action as it unfolds, GCN+ provides the finest expert analysis in the business, to put you right at the heart of the peloton.
In one form or another, Team Jumbo-Visma have been a fixture on the pro-cycling circuit since the mid-’80s – over the years they’ve been known by numerous names including Belkin and, most famously, Rabobank – but their ascent to the pinnacle of the sport has been relatively recent.
The 2019 arrival of superstar signing Wout van Aert signalled the team’s intent to shift their focus towards the Classics. Over the last two years, Team Jumbo-Visma have bolstered their ranks with experienced Classics riders such as Tiesj Benoot and Dylan van Baarle, who became one of the biggest signings of the most recent off-season when he joined from INEOS Grenadiers. These high-profile arrivals have added fire power and unrivalled strength in depth to the already formidable men in black and yellow, and they’ll once again be a force to be reckoned in the Classics this spring.
But ability in the saddle will only get you so far. For all the undoubted talent of their riders, Jumbo-Visma’s success is also built on their mastery of tactics on the road. The ability to get your key riders in the right place at the right time is always important in cycling but never more so than in the Classics.
These races are long, stressful and often fraught with danger. The courses can be narrow, and the riders have to weave their way through towns and villages packed with roundabouts, speed bumps and other potentially challenging road furniture. The Paris-Roubaix (aka the Hell of the North) also takes competitors over miles of infamously gruelling cobbles, while the route of the Tour of Flanders features numerous punishing climbs. Throw in the threat of bad weather – notably some vicious cross winds – and you’re looking at events capable of pushing pro cyclists to their limits. With only one shot at victory, bad luck, bad positioning or a crash can end a rider’s dreams of glory in a flash, so having a powerful team around you is particularly imperative in the Classics.
Jumbo-Visma’s strength-in-depth means they can set an aggressive pace in races to tire out potential opponents, and ensure they have multiple riders in breakaways. This gives them plenty of options for that all-important dash to the finish line. A strong team can also shepherd a lead rider into prime position to push for a win and shield them from inclement weather. GCN+’s unrivalled expert analysis shows how these different scenarios play out on the road, giving you a better understanding of the many intricacies of Classics racing.
2022 was something of an annus mirabilis for Team Jumbo-Visma. Not only did they ride away from the Tour de France with the yellow, green and polka-dot jerseys (for Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and Vingegaard, respectively), but they also picked up impressive victories at Classics like the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Saxo Bank Classic (both for Wout van Aert), and famous stage races such as the Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné (both for Primož Roglič).
This year has started in similarly ominous fashion for Jumbo-Visma’s rivals. The team owned the opening weekend of the Classics season, with Jumbo-Visma newcomer and reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Dylan van Baarle winning the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, simply riding away from his rivals with a stunning display of strength. Tiesj Benoot topped the podium at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the very next day, with teammate Nathan van Hooydonck in third.
Jumbo-Visma then went on to dominate Gent-Wevelgem, with a victory for Christophe Laporte ahead of van Aert. This second place, along with van Aert’s win at this year’s E3 Saxo Bank Classic suggests that a season of cyclocross has done little to diminish his pace on the road.
There was a brief glimmer of hope for the rest of the field when a tactical misunderstanding between Atilla Valter and Benoot arguably cost the team a victory at the 2023 edition of the Strade Bianche. Indeed, as competition hots up with big-name rivals like Tadej Pogačar, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van de Poel, it’ll be intriguing to see how Team Jumbo-Visma react to having a target on their backs. How will they deal with opponents who take the race to them rather than simply try to mark van Aert out of contention before a big sprint? Will the pressure of being top dogs play with the riders’ minds?
By subscribing to GCN+, you can make sure you don’t miss a pedal stroke of the exciting 2023 season. The service features live and uninterrupted coverage of the biggest races on the cycling calendar (including road, cross, track and MTB). You also get unrivalled expert analysis to give you the lowdown on the riders and the intriguing team tactics that’ll be crucial to Classics success.
You can watch at any time, on any screen, and take advantage of on-demand replays and highlights packages to fit around your schedule – long, short or, if you’re really pushed for time, just the final kilometres. You also get GCN+’s exclusive weekly round-up show, World of Cycling, and access to over 150 exclusive cycling films.
A monthly subscription costs just £6.99 a month in the UK, though you can save loads by signing up for an annual package that’ll set you back just £39.99. In the US, you’ll pay $8.99 a month (plus taxes), or $49.99 a year.
You can watch the Tour of Flanders on April 2 and Paris-Roubaix on April 9 on GCN+. Check out the unmissable cycling racing you can watch this week on GCN+ at globalcyclingnetwork.com.
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