Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished its final pre-season training camp in Alicante, Spain, while a handful of its cyclists already began their season Down Under in Australia. Trainer Mathieu Heijboer kept an eye on the troops in Spain. The team went for its warmer weather, but was hit with occasional snow storms in Spain.
"I don’t often see the weather so bad here,” said Heijboer. “Although we didn’t have the ideal programme, we still return home satisfied. We training in another ways, and I saw many tired cyclists. That means that they have done enough this week.
“Several times, we had to improvise due the bad weather. We had our endurance training on Tacx-rollers and the sprinters did extra strength training in the gym. It's not ideal, but we had a plan B in our mind in the weeks before training camp when it became clear that the weather wouldn’t be as good as usual.
"The team is in good shape. I feel that, physical, the team is ready to start the season. The training went well, and we saw in the different tests that everyone has a good level to start the season."
The five trainer/coaches
Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s roster includes 29 riders who are split among the different trainer/coaches. These coaches train all types of riders and consider the different specialties.
Belgian trainer Marc Lamberts has been working since last year with the team, but before that also a while with Jurgen Van den Broeck. In addition to the climber, who’s riding for team LottoNL-Jumbo starting this year, Lamberts also trains classic riders like Lars Boom.
Louis Delahaye, another long-time trainer in the team, has been helping Robert Gesink from the beginning. His focus now is to help Gesink in his hunt for stages in this year’s Tour de France.
Grischa Niermann just joined the team as a coach. The German raced for team Rabobank and in the last few years, he was trainer and sports director in the Rabobank Development Team. Through his work with the development squad, he got to know Antwan Tolhoek and Bert-Jan Lindeman. Those two will continue to work with Niermann in 2017.
Merijn Zeeman is not only the Sportive Director, but also a coach for a number of riders in the team. He has a number of sprinters under his wings. With Dylan Groenewegen, they are working on the perfect sprint train. In addition, Zeeman also looks after Steven Kruijswijk and his goal to win this year's Giro d'Italia.
Mathieu Heijboer, the head of performance, is responsible for the global trainingsplan of Team LottoNL-Jumbo. He also works with many of the time trial riders in the team. He trains Jos van Emden and Victor Campenaerts. You see him often at the races when the team races time trials. He also takes care of the various tests with the Bianchi Aquila CV, the team’s time trial bike.
The team’s new hire Amund Grøndahl Jansen, 22, is under Heijboer’s wings. The Norwegian still needs to figure out in what field he will specialise.
"He’s a talented strong rider, it is now up to us to discover his qualities,” Heijboer said. “He will be a good classics rider, and definitely a good sprinter. In the U23 ranks, he won many of his races after a long breakaway, but we think he can win races in the sprints as well. We have trained him as a sprinter in the beginning of this winter, later we train more on the endurance with him.”
"It's not like you have to get used to long distances when you are a neo-professional. As an U23 riders, they train often and cover long distances so they are ready to go. The big difference is the intensity in the finals of a pro-race. In our team, young riders get the chance to develop gradually to the top. ”
Jansen performed well in recent tests and Heijboer is curious to see how he will position himself in the sprints in the Dubai Tour next week.
Mathieu Heijboer starts his season in Valencia, looking after the riders in the opening team time trial. “Our goal is to do our best to gain time on our competitors, but the idea is to also go for the stage win.”