Cees Bol: Negative comments from unamed DSM riders 'difficult to read'

Dutch sprinter says that it is difficult to read criticisms of the team

Cees Bol
Cees Bol during the 2021 Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It is "difficult" to read criticisms of Team DSM, Cees Bol has said, adding that the atmosphere is "great" within the team.

In an interview with Dutch website Wielerflits, the sprinter said negative reports of DSM are "sometimes difficult to read, especially because I really enjoy being in this team".

Earlier this month, Sporza  (opens in new tab) published a piece on the team, which included unnamed riders saying the way the team was run was like a "Soviet regime" with another adding they were "treated like little children".

In response Bol said: "Of course it is sometimes difficult when the performances are disappointing and things are not going so well in the team. I consider it one of the highlights of the year that we got back on top of that during the season."

The German squad only managed eight wins in 2021, which left them bottom of the UCI's WorldTour rankings, while Bol won one race, a stage of Paris-Nice.

Tiesj Benoot was the latest rider to leave DSM under a cloud, breaking his contract early. He joined Marcel Kittel, Michael Matthews, Tom Dumoulin, Marc Hirschi and Warren Barguil in leaving the team before the end of their contracts. 

Bol, however, insisted that he was in the "right place". "I'm in the right place and that I have the right people around me to get better again. I have that feeling this winter too. Everyone is really into it. 

"The atmosphere is great in the team. I really have the feeling that we can make it a good season in 2022."

Despite being taken to the Tour de France as a designated sprinter, Bol struggled on the biggest stage, with his best result being two sixth place finishes. 

He explained: "I was quite ill prior to the Tour. I wasn't been able to train for ten days because of a high fever, which had a big effect on my physical shape anyway. You start off with a little less confidence if you are not one hundred percent."

"What makes it extra difficult is that almost everyone is in top form at the start, he continued. "As a team we are so ambitious that it was difficult to accept that on some days things went quite well and that a sixth place was the highest achievable. With the history that preceded it, that might not have been too bad. But instead of seeing it as a positive, it actually only got harder because we saw it as a setback."

This set in a negative mindset with the team, Bol said: "It was quite difficult and disappointing that we wanted more, but we couldn't. I had been trying harder and harder for quite some time, without going back to basics first. Eating, training, sleeping and trying to race as a team. I think we were too focused on details."

However, things improved later in the season, with DSM winning three stages at the Vuelta a España through Michael Storer and Romain Bardet.

Bol said: "At a certain point, after the Tour, the realisation came and we started building from the bottom up. Perhaps the Vuelta team had already done that a little earlier. That was great to see. I sat at home on the couch and watched it. From August everything went well for the whole team and we were attentive again in the finals."

The Dutch sprinter's schedule is yet to be decided for next year, but Bol said that he will be heading to at least one grand tour to aim for a stage win.

"One day it's the Tour, the next it's the Giro [d'Italia]", he said. "The Tour is the biggest stage in this sport, but that's also the only Grand Tour I have experience in, in that respect it's also cool to do the Giro. And the Vuelta starts in the Netherlands, so that's also super nice. A kind of home game. Actually, all three have something. Also in terms of course, not one of them stands out."

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