It was reminiscent of the dominance of US Postal and later Team Sky in their best days. During the first Tour stage with an uphill finish there was always a Jumbo-Visma rider at the head of the favourites group, which was getting smaller and smaller.
First it was Wout van Aert and then Sepp Kuss who set the pace, after which Primoz Roglic sprinted for the stage win. “We always want to be in control”, performance coach Mathieu Heijboer says about riding his team. “But that doesn’t mean we’re always in the lead. We are not a machine. You do this mainly to stay out of trouble.”
Rit victory no more than a bonus
Anyway, it looked impressive and it wasn’t the first time this season that the yellow and black dictated the course uphill. Mountain stages in the Dauphiné and the Tour of Ain, preparation races for the Tour, went the same way last month. Jumbo-Visma rides dominantly and wins a lot, already twelve times since the restart of the season.
There were years that the Tour de France for Rabobank, later Lotto-Jumbo and now Jumbo-Visma, had already succeeded in winning a stage win.
Those times seem an eternity ago when sports director Merijn Zeeman called Roglic’s day victory ‘a very nice bonus’. “We’re very happy with that, but we’re here for the yellow in Paris.”
“We’re dosing our strength in three weeks,” says Zeeman. “This is a stroke. Very good for the self-confidence of Primoz and all of us. We can enjoy it for a while, but we are working on something bigger.”
Heijboer: “This group is very hungry. Not just the riders, but everyone in the team.”
While Roglic was constantly in the front group in the final kilometers, Tom Dumoulin dropped back a bit. He found himself ‘not good’. “It was hanging and strangling and fighting.”
Sailor doesn’t worry about the shape of Dumoulin, who crossed the line at the same time as Roglic. “It was super heavy, there was a scorching pace.”
“Tom had to plug a hole here and there and he did. He’s very good and did exactly what he had to do.”
Heijboer also sees no reason to assume that Dumoulin would not be in good shape. “You could see that Tom was having a hard time, but by character he stood his ground in the first group. If this is your bad day, I’m satisfied.”