Development Team learns cross-country skiing in Norway: 'It's good to do something different'

Development Team learns cross-country skiing in Norway: 'It's good to do something different'

Since the formation of the Development Team, an annual winter training camp has been organised in the Norwegian snow. "It creates such a strong bond to sit here together for so long in a situation where practically everyone is out of their comfort zone."

In an all-white setting, the horizon is clearly marked by a row of pine trees. There is snow on the ground and the sky is the same colour. On the trail, to the left, someone on cross-country skis is sinking into the deep snow. Three other young athletes on skis collide and fall to the snow to the laughter of onlookers.

While most cycling teams spend December preparing for the new season on their bikes in the Spanish sun, the Jumbo-Visma Development Team has been seeking out the Norwegian snow since its inception in 2020. "It's beautiful here", says Development Manager Robbert de Groot, showing off the cabins where the riders and staff stay for ten days.

"You train here even when you're not on the bike"

Menno Huising

Like the team's riders, De Groot is enthusiastic about the annual cold-weather training camp. He says it's the perfect way to build a close-knit team and to get to know each other. "Cross-country skiing is an activity that is physically close to cycling but is new to most riders", De Groot explains.

"When you don't know something, you have to immerse yourself in it to get the hang of it. Here, they have to do that together. It's fascinating to see how they deal with it. Some of them are here for the fourth time. They obviously have better technique and have to help the new guys. The same goes for someone like Jørgen Nordhagen, who will be competing at the World Cross Country Championships. It creates a solid bond to sit together for so long in a situation where almost everyone is out of their comfort zone."

But the camp is about more than team building. Two chefs are working hard to improve the young talents' nutritional knowledge. "Food is so important", first-year U23 rider Matthew Brennan says. It's his first time in Norway. "I got a lot of ideas about what I can cook at home and what I can eat during and around training. We cook here and learn how to make nutritious but tasty food. I find that very valuable."

Menno Huising, who is in Norway for the second time, agrees: "We really have time here to learn and do many other things besides training. When you've been cross-country skiing for three hours, you've trained hard. But there is still plenty of time to do other things: work with the chefs, think about race tactics or go to the gym.


The rigour of the training is also evident. "When I went for the first time last year, I wondered if I could afford to miss two weeks of training at this stage of the preparation", Huising says. "But when I got back on the bike, I realised I had lost nothing and had become stronger. You train here even when you're not on the bike. It also makes you mentally fresher to do something different."

De Groot: "The riders spend so much time on the bike, it is good to do something different. They have been riding a lot before this camp and will continue to do so afterwards. In the meantime they are getting an experience they will never forget."

Brennan agrees: "This is not something I would normally do, but I think it is a great experience. You really get an insight into another culture. Of course, I knew Jørgen was doing this as a sport, but now you see what the cross-country world is like. It is quite impressive."

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