The combined cycling and ice skating squad Team LottoNL-Jumbo presented its 27 cyclists today with the overall job of winning more races in 2016. The lead-out for the sprinters will be an important part of that target, but the support for the classification riders has increased as well. What is also clear is that the collaboration with the ice skating team delivered interesting insight and commercial opportunities.
“Since the team building camp with the Dutch Royal Army last November, we are carrying out our 2018 vision," team director Richard Plugge said. “Our visions came closer together during those days. We noticed that during the training camp in December that the atmosphere in the group is great because of the fact that we can carry out our vision until 2018 with the support of our sponsors.”
The team changed the plan bringing it to an higher level and making specific choices. “We have to be focussed a lot more," he added. “We’re choosing the sprint first. We have three very good sprinters with Moreno Hofland, Dylan Groenewegen and Tom Van Asbroeck. It’s our job to make sure that those guys are at the right place in the right time. When we’re able to do that, they can win a lot of races.”
“The second part we’re focussing on is the group of the general classification riders," Plugge continued. Plugge will use the train principle to its maximum in every type of terrain and race towards 2018 when the whole plan has to be mature. “It’s also necessary to have a lead-out for our best climbers. We had such a lead-out, but it was not enough. We signed some riders for the upcoming season who are able to stay with our front men much longer than what we did last year. Primoz Roglic and Enrico Battaglin are the best examples. When we’re looking at the long term, we’re going to work with young talents like Koen Bouwman and Alexey Vermeulen. With those two cyclists we look to the future, the long game. We also improved our time trials massively last year. That’s an essential part of scoring results in stage races and we will keep on improving and developing it.”
There is still the classics team. “With Sep Vanmarcke, we have a world class rider in the spring classics on the cobble stones," Plugge explained. “And we have Mike Teunissen and Tom Van Asbroeck as well, our trumps in the spring classics. We have to use our lead-out for the sprint as well for bringing Sep in good position in the spring classics.
“I think that we have a stronger team for the spring classics this year. Jos van Emden, Robert Wagner, Tom Leezer, Maarten Wynants and Maarten Tjallingii already proved that they’re good at it at the WorldTour level. Our team improved especially in the second line this year.
“The collaboration with the ice skating team is developing good, as well”, Plugge continued. “We’re doing more and more together. Sven Kramer will join us at our training camp this month, that’s a good example of our developed collaboration. The coaches are consulting a lot with each other and the two teams are sharing more and more commercially, as well. The teams are growing with each other. Together we keep on looking for the best possibilities in aerodynamics, we’re talking about testing muscle strength, and we learn from each other in regards to food nutrition and using supplements.”
Wilco during the team presentation: “I was a little bit too eager last season and that’s why I didn’t make the most of it. That’s the most important lesson that last year taught me. I won’t participate in all the Ardennes Classics this year. I will only do the Flèche Wallonne. Besides that I will ride the Ruta del Sol, Paris-Nice, the Tour of Catalonia, the Tour de Romandie, the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. Those races suit me better.
“I’m going to train on altitude twice between those races, as well. I think that I’m ahead of where I was one year ago. I did some extra physical training. I did the right things this winter and I’m ready for the upcoming season.”