Team Jumbo-Visma starts season in historic spot for Blanco Pro Cycling

Team Jumbo-Visma starts season in historic spot for Blanco Pro Cycling

The Tour Down Under will mark the beginning of a new cycling season for Team Jumbo-Visma. Ten years ago, the Australian stage race was the setting for the first race kilometers and victories for Blanco Pro Cycling, which Richard Plugge had founded after Rabobank left cycling. Tom-Jelte Slagter won the third stage and the overall classification for the new formation with Wilco Kelderman by his side. A retrospective with the main riders of yesteryear.

"It may have been ten years since I won the Tour Down Under, but the memory is still very much alive", Slagter begins his story. In 2013, the former rider started his third season as a professional, and he is still enthusiastic about the victory from that year. "I still remember a lot from that edition. For me, those were immediately the biggest wins of my career, but it was also an incredible moment for the squad, also because of the circumstances."

Blanco Pro Cycling Team, now known as Team Jumbo-Visma, first entered the peloton in 2013. There were many uncertainties in the beginning. Slagter attests to that. "Blanco's situation at the time was challenging, but I didn't have much trouble with it. I was preparing for the Tour Down Under, which went really well. I wasn't concerned about which sponsor might come next. Fortunately, I could push the troubles away from me."

"Tom-Jelte was in good shape when the race started, but it was unexpected that he rode so well."

Wilco Kelderman

The 31-year-old Kelderman was also in Australia and had been preparing with Slagter for the season ouverture. "I recall that Tom-Jelte and I had rented a house in Spain and spent a week training there. The Tour Down Under, which traditionally takes place as the opening race of the season, was a test for us. The staff wondered how long the team would endure. It made everyone extra motivated. Tom-Jelte was in good shape when the race started, but it was unexpected that he rode so well. That was amazing."

The outcome of the third stage, in particular, made Slagter believe he could win the Australian stage race. "The third stage finished in Stirling. We explored the challenging course and discussed it in advance. If the race became a sprint, I was propelled into the lead. That day, David Tanner did an excellent job preparing for me. I won the sprint after entering it early. It felt so surreal. I didn't expect I could beat riders like Philippe Gilbert and Geraint Thomas. In the days that followed, the anxiety only got worse. My form was fine, but I was mostly afraid something would happen to the team or me. Fortunately, that was not the case."


According to Kelderman, there is a significant contrast between Team Jumbo-Visma today and Blanco back then regarding professionalism and approach. "Cycling has evolved. The build-up to a new season is now clearly organised. Additionally, communication with the coaches and dietitians is ongoing. Ten years ago in December, we trained conservatively without a clear objective. Now, each cyclist follows a separate path while keeping their goals in mind. The coaches have considerably more information as well. That creates a more relaxed atmosphere."

Slagter also knows one thing for sure about the current coaches he has already worked with. "They are involved in all aspects of cycling to such an extent that they always make you better."

It earned the 33-year-old Dutchman a stunning victory in Australia at the time. Over the next few days it will be up to Lennard Hofstede, Jos van Emden, Robert Gesink, Timo Roosen, Milan Vader, Rohan Dennis and Tim van Dijke, under the guidance of Addy Engels, to kick off Blanco Pro Cycling's anniversary year in Team Jumbo-Visma's black-and-yellow.

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