Team LottoNL-Jumbo starts the new 2017 season next month with much ambition. Dylan Groenewegen aims to sprint to victories in big races, Steven Kruijswijk wants to go for overall victory in the Giro d'Italia and Robert Gesink a stage win in the Tour de France.
To increase the team’s chances of success, LottoNL-Jumbo tweaked the structure. Merijn Zeeman as Sportive Director will be responsible for the technical aspects and Nico Verhoeven as Race Director will be responsible for the strategy and tactics in the races.
“Today’s cycling needs a more specific focus on tasks,” General Manager Richard Plugge explained. “Preparation, both physical and mental, and materials are important. They are just as important as a performance on the road. This needs a 100 per cent focus. We are already working this way, but with a clearer delineation for 2017.”
Merijn Zeeman – Sportive Director
"I have long been engaged in coaching riders in the team,” Zeeman said. “In recent years, I did that as a sports director and I coached the riders individually. From now on, I'm going to focus on the big picture and the overall sports policy.
"I want to motivate and inspire the whole team to increase the involvement within the team. This change fits within the policy to make the team more professional and streamlined. It is a challenge to compete with best in the world. We want to be smarter and more innovative, and get the best out of everyone. There is a lot of talent and quality in the team. With the right guidance and attention, we help them to develop themselves. We want to grow to a next level with the team."
Nico Verhoeven - Race Director
Nico Verhoeven takes on another title in 2017. As a race director, he will consult with the coaches and sports directors with the aim of taking the team to another level. “Race director means that I am responsible for all the races and what it involves. I make the line-ups in consultation with the coaches and sport directors. I am also responsible for the tactics even for the races where I’m not the sports director.
"We are going to continue to build our sprint train and GC train. With Dylan Groenewegen, we want to win sprints and with Steven Kruijswijk, we have the Giro as the ultimate goal. Achieving these goals requires proper planning and tactics.”
“Lars Boom joined the team, with a Dutch team leader we will start in the big spring-classics,” Verhoeven added. “Boom will be supported in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.”
"The Tour de France is the biggest race of the year. Many Dutch people are on vacation and follow the Tour from start to finish. With Team LottoNL-Jumbo, we want to race attractively, aiming for stage victories. It is the first time that we have no GC ambitions in the Tour de France. Robert Gesink and Dylan Groenewegen, for example, will try to win stages."
Niermann and De Haan new Sport Directors
Grischa Niermann and Sierk Jan de Haan both join the sport directors team. They do so given the expansion of the WorldTour calendar and the other activities of Zeeman and Verhoeven. Niermann and De Haan both worked for the Rabobank Development Team, which is stopping this off-season. De Haan also worked for Rabobank-Liv.
Boom returns to the Dutch team with any eye on the classics and has LottoNL-Jumbo’s knowledge and experience to win time trials. "It feels good to be back with the team,” Boom said. “I start my season at the Tour of the Algarve and my spring campaign really begins with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Paris-Nice. With this team around me, the main goals of this year are Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.
"The Bianchi Aquila has developed enormously in recent years and is arguably the best time trial bike in the peloton. The team is committed to this discipline and so I win in the time trials. I'm training more than ever on the time trial bike and we managed to perfect my position on the bike.”
Robert Gesink’s season starts early this year with the Tour Down Under. He is motivated by his Vuelta a España last year. “In addition to the Tour Down Under, I ride in Abu Dhabi. I’m building towards the Tour the France. I think it's great to start the year in an adventurous way with many different races around the world. With the first race, the Tour Down Under, it is always a big question of how your fitness is coming out of the winter, but if I have it, I’ll go for a good GC. Later in the season, I start in the Tour of California.
“I really want to win a Tour de France stage and with the whole team, we want to go for it. The last few years were really an eye-opener for me. The Tour in 2015 and the Vuelta in 2016 gave me the feeling that there is still much to do. I’m looking forward to going for stage wins in the upcoming Tour. I’m going back to my roots of offensive racing and going for it. "
The team’s top sprinter Dylan Groenewegen hopes to beat the best in the world next season. He should draw on the confidence that the team gives him through the sprint train. "It all went very quickly last year. The sprint train was getting better and I started winning,” Groenewegen said. “It makes sense to continue with this project. We will have a beautiful addition to the train with Lars Boom, who is an ideal rider for that role. He can direct the train well, and knows how to put us in position and to put out big watts.”
His campaign will look similar to 2017. He will start in the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Algarve. "The major goals in 2017 are the Dutch Championship and the Tour again. I would love to keep my red-white-blue top another year and show it in the Tour de France against the world’s top sprinters. In the Eneco Tour, I showed that I can beat them.
"I cannot wait to be able to sprint again for the victory. We prefer to do that as soon as possible in the Tour of Qatar and in classics like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Gent-Wevelgem. Once the train rolls and sprints won, we take a huge boost for the rest of the season."
Steven Kruijswijk showed in 2016 that he can ride for the win in a grand tour. In 2017, he starts with the goal of winning the pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia. Kruijswijk signed a new contract this year and has full confidence to go for a grand tour victory with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. And the team is committed to the cause. “Every moment from now on is centred on that great goal, the Giro. We will do everything to be at the start in top form.
"With my opinion, the team brought in a number of riders who can assist me in the Giro. Stef Clement and Jurgen Van den Broeck will be important riders for me. Therefore they ride almost the same programme and they go with me altitude training. Also, the rest of the Giro team will often race with me and train with me.
"Because of my crash in the Vuelta, my season ended quickly and I started my winter differently. Right now, I'm on schedule for the Giro. My season starts in February. After the Giro in May, I’m going to focus on the Vuelta, where I also want to go for the general classification. "