In the high-stakes world of professional cycling, the name “Jumbo-Visma” resonates with admiration and intrigue.
For anyone who’s followed the sport, this team’s rise and resilience have been nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Jumbo-Visma managed to win all three Grand Tours in the same year, with three different riders claiming victory in the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. Not even the dominant Team Sky achieved such a feat back in their heyday.
So, what exactly drives their consistent success?
Beyond the athleticism and the hours of training lies a meticulously planned strategy, state-of-the-art equipment, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
In this comprehensive deep dive, we’ll pull back the curtain on the many facets that make Team Jumbo-Visma a dominant force.
We’ll be covering:
Let’s dive in!
For 2023, Jumbo-Visma’s operating budget is estimated to sit comfortably between €25 million and €30 million.
Now, if you’re scratching your head wondering what all this covers – think team activities, the salaries of those incredibly talented riders, and all the other essentials to keep the wheels turning, both literally and figuratively.
Despite facing a sponsorship hiccup that led to a €5 million dip – due to the unexpected departure of the German speed-demon grocery delivery service, Gorillas – Jumbo-Visma still pedals among the elite in the financial lane of the peloton.
Why does this matter? Well, with deep pockets come some pretty sweet perks. The big one is the ability to woo top-notch riders with lucrative deals. Imagine having the budget to sign not just stars but superstars.
Many of Jumbo Visma’s supporting riders are so good they could easily take the lead in other WorldTour squads. That’s some firepower, right?
But, you know, cycling isn’t always a smooth ride. With the anticipated wrap-up of support from their main sponsor, Koninklijke Jumbo Food Groep in 2024, there’s a mountainous challenge ahead.
So, what’s next for the team? It might come down to pedaling hard to snag fresh sponsorships and crafting a balanced financial strategy for the rides ahead. Can they do it? With their track record, I wouldn’t bet against them.
However, given INEOS Grenadiers have the greatest budget in the peloton but haven’t had the success to match it in recent years, there’s clearly far more going on behind the scenes for Jumbo-Visma.
The essentials of cycling training? Believe it or not, some of them have withstood the test of time. They’re as true today as they were a century ago.
As Mathieu Heijboer, Head of Performance for Jumbo-Visma, puts it:
“Want to claim victory in a Grand Tour? Then a solid, unwavering training regimen spanning several months is non-negotiable. That’s the bedrock, the heartbeat of it all.”Mathieu Heijboer, Jumbo-Visma Head of Performance
Imagine riding consistently up to a whopping 30 hours a week, gradually upping the ante as the months go by. This routine, interspersed with periods of high stress, followed by a week of lighter activity, is the magic formula.
While cycling maestros like Roglič and Pogačar play it close to the vest, not sharing much of their training data, Sepp Kuss, the recent Vuelta a España winner from Jumbo-Visma’s U.S. contingent, is a bit more transparent.
He works through weekly training schedules that toggle between 15 and 25 hours, a proven strategy refined over the ages.
Racing Less, Training More
Back in the day, if you were gunning for the Tour de France, you’d be rubbing shoulders in the peloton almost constantly. Fast forward to today? Cyclists like Kuss, Roglič, and Pogačar opt for extended hiatuses, immersing themselves in intensive training sessions.
Every pedal push, every heartbeat – it’s all mapped out with impeccable accuracy, often mirroring the rigorous demands of a live race.
Talking about Jumbo-Visma’s training in Spain’s Sierra Nevada, Kuss shared, “In camp, everyone’s training routine is tailored. Since our goals and roles differ, our routines are diverse. For each of us, there are bespoke intervals, fine-tuned to our needs.”
Racers reserve the hustle and bustle of the competition for when it’s absolutely crucial. It’s like saving your best dance moves for the main stage.
Vingegaard, Roglič, and other GC contenders are picky about their race participation, prioritizing quality over quantity.
Heijboer emphasizes the strategy, saying, “We ensure our riders, especially GC contenders, get ample training. But they also need the race experience, to feel the pulse of the peloton, to kindle their competitive spirit.”
Comparing Roglič’s racing calendar to a rider from a decade back, you’d notice he races less. But why?
Heijboer elucidates, “For a GC contender, consistent training is golden. It lets them reach their peak and bounce back faster. They can then use select races as a stepping stone, rather than exhausting themselves with too many competitions.”
Having said that, Kuss’s 2023 Vuelta win came after serving as a super-domestique at both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season – emphasizing just how exceptional his performance was.
Altitude training camps are more than just a breath of thin air.
They’re a pivotal turning point for elite cyclists, and not just because they sound cool. Sure, the science is there – boosting red blood cells and enhancing oxygen capacity. But it’s about more than that.
Imagine pushing through thousands of kilometers, climbing over 30,000 meters (98,000 ft), all while immersed in an environment laser-focused on performance.
If you’ve got your eye on the Tour de France victory, these camps are the prep ground. Two weeks or more of rigorous riding, mostly in solitude, serve as the ultimate dress rehearsal before the main event.
Heijboer weighs in, “The strategic placement of altitude stints matters immensely. But it’s also about how we gradually increase the exposure over time.
“Sending Tour riders to altitude training in February, for instance, is twofold. It sets the stage for spring races, but crucially, it infuses the season’s start with high-altitude conditioning.
“The idea? To foster a robust adaptation over the months.”
Ever heard of the “altitude effect”? It’s that heavy-legged feeling cyclists used to grapple with post-training when they’d return to sea level. But now, with camps at Teide, Sierra Nevada, and the towering Alps becoming routine, that effect is becoming more legend than reality.
Heijboer shares, “Sure, a few riders might feel off-kilter post-altitude. But our familiarity with these sessions and individual riders means we’ve got a pretty solid grip on who might face a bad day, if at all, and when.”
Gone are the days when riders resorted to nibbling at their sandwiches, chugging water, and hitting the sack on an empty stomach.
Power now reigns supreme in the world of W/kg equations, which means athletes fuel up more, thanks to the guiding hand of nutrition experts.
It’s simple: hearty meals equal hearty performances.
“As we gear up for the Tour de France, we aim for that sweet spot – the optimal race weight,” explains Heijboer.
“This consistent approach breeds consistent performance.
“While hitting the right race weight is a goal, we place a premium on timely and appropriate nutrition. Our riders need to be at their best, after all.”
Well-nourished riders thrive. A seemingly insignificant extra half-kilo could be the line between standing atop the podium in Paris and facing exhaustion or injuries.
“Obsessing over weight can play tricks on the mind. If the mind’s not in the right place, performance inevitably suffers. We’re always conscious of that balance,” notes Heijboer.
Jumbo-Visma goes the extra mile by partnering with in-house chefs during races. This ensures riders get precisely what they need for the next leg of the journey. No more relying on unpredictable hotel kitchens.
Ever heard of the Jumbo Foodcoach app? It’s a game-changer. Riders use it daily, turning their nutrition into a seamless, stress-free experience.
The behind-the-scenes magic involves the team’s nutritionist, who crafts individualized food strategies for every phase: pre-race, mid-race, post-race, and training.
Armed with this info, the culinary wizards – their chefs – whip up scrumptious dishes that meet each rider’s exact dietary needs, down to the gram. And the riders? They’re clued in on their upcoming meals and serving sizes through the app.
The brilliance of the app stems from collaborations with top-tier nutrition gurus and exercise scientists. It’s been tried and tested, with the team’s riders, chefs, and nutritionists providing valuable feedback.
When it comes to gear, Team Jumbo-Visma doesn’t leave things to chance.
The drivetrain? It’s from SRAM. Those sleek wheels turning smoothly? That’s the work of Reserve. Cervélo provides the framesets, while Nimbl takes care of the footwear, ensuring every pedal stroke counts, and Oakley’s glasses ensure a clear vision on the road ahead.
2023 sees AGU on board again, providing top-tier race attire. Hailing from Alkmaar, this Dutch brand collaborates closely with Team Jumbo-Visma’s performance staff, honing the racers’ outfits to perfection.
This year’s Paris-Roubaix had several Jumbo-Visma athletes showcasing the innovative KAPS (Kinetic Air Pressure System) wheelsets. Wondering what’s special about them?
This brainchild of Gravaa, an enterprise based out of Eindhoven, lets riders tweak their tire pressure on the go, ensuring optimal grip irrespective of the terrain.
Whenever Jumbo-Visma lines up at the start of a race, there’s an undeniable aura of confidence. Why? Because they’re not just participants, they’ve got multiple aces up their sleeves. It’s no surprise that their rivals always keep a keen eye on them.
Ever wondered how they’ve been dominating the calendar lately? Let’s break down their master strategy into a few clear-cut steps:
- First off, they play the stamina game. They strive to tire out the competition early on. This could mean sending a top-tier team member into an early breakaway, putting the onus on rival teams to keep pace.
Or, in some cases, they’ll take charge and set a blistering pace right at the front, effectively shutting down any breakaway dreams for others.
- As the race’s climax looms, they shift gears. A key member makes a bold move, setting a frantic pace.
This means while competitors are burning their reserves to keep up, Jumbo-Visma’s main leaders can coast along, conserving their energy for the home stretch.
- After pushing the pedal to the metal for several grueling kilometers, a natural selection starts to form.
While other top contenders find themselves isolated, Jumbo-Visma’s big names often have the luxury of multiple teammates by their side, setting them up for the final showdown.
- Then, the coup de grâce. Their leader, having conserved energy all along, breaks away with a burst of speed.
And here’s the icing on the cake – even as competitors scramble to catch up, Jumbo-Visma’s supporting cast is right there, thwarting any organized chase.
- And just like that, with strategy and synergy, another victory notch goes to this Dutch machine.
The most important factor of all is undoubtedly the incredible strength of Jumbo-Visma’s roster of cyclists.
While all the other factors discussed play into getting the maximum out of each of them, the X-factor that has enabled such a period of dominance is undeniably the squad Jumbo Visma has painstakingly assembled.
The headline fact is that all three Grand Tours were won by three different riders – Roglič at the Giro, Vingegaard at the Tour, and Kuss at the Vuelta – underlining the unparalleled depth in the squad.
That both Vingegaard and Kuss started with Jumbo-Visma as domestiques rather than GC contenders also shows the team’s ability to get the absolute maximum out of their squad, helping turn talented prospects into world-beaters.
Aside from the genuine Grand Tour contenders – of which most teams would feel lucky to have one, let alone three – the rest of the Jumbo-Visma roster is incredibly strong too.
Wout van Aert is arguably the most versatile cyclist in the peloton and a superstar in his own right, just as capable of delivering a devastating pull to demolish his leader’s opponents in the high mountains as he is of winning a bunch sprint or a time trial.
Dylan van Baarle, Tiesj Benoot, Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman – the list of outstanding deputies goes on, many of whom are capable of challenging for stage wins and Classics races in their own right.
We want to hear your opinion!
The intricate layers that constitute Jumbo-Visma’s powerhouse status in professional cycling are genuinely captivating. Their blend of strategy, top-tier equipment, and unwavering dedication has created a blueprint for success in the peloton.
But as with all dominant sporting forces, opinions vary.
Is it inspiring to witness such a tour de force in action, or does the predictability take away from the thrill of competition? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Do you find the reign of Jumbo-Visma exciting or potentially monotonous for the future of the sport?
Dive into the comments below!