The holiday is over and it is time for the professional riders to start their serious training for the 2017 season. After the team building activities at the first team meetings in November, the month of December is traditionally the time for the first real training camps where the first drafts of the season schedules are made and just a few weeks later, the cycling season is in full swing at the Tour Down Under. During the next few weeks, CyclingQuotes prepares you for the coming season in a series of analyses where we take a detailed look at each of the 18 WorldTour teams and what to expect during the next 12 months.
Below we take a look at Team LottoNL-Jumbo.
Enrico Battaglin, George Bennett, Koen Bouwman, Victor Campenaerts, Twan Castelijns, Robert Gesink, Dylan Groenewegen, Martijn Keizer, Steven Kruijswijk, Steven Lammertink, Tom Leezer, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Primoz Roglic, Timo Roosen, Bram Tankink, Jos Van Emden, Alexis Vermeulen, Robert Wagner, Maarten Wynants
Lars Boom (Astana), Stef Clement (IAM), Floris De Tier (Topsport Vlaanderen), Amund Grondahl Jansen (Joker), Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar), Daan Olivier (returns to pro level), Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Katusha)
Riders leaving the team
Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal), Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), Mike Teunissen (Tem Sunweb), Maarten Tjallingii (retires), Dennis Van Winden (Cycling Academy), Tom Van Asbroeck (Cannondale), Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale)
Analysis of the transfer season
LottoNL-Jumbo have been pretty active during the transfer season and have signed no less than nine new riders. Nonetheless, the Dutch team stand out as one of the big losers for the 2017 season as they have lost two of their captains without bringing in replacements of the same level. Their signings have mostly focused on young talents and while that could pay dividends in the long term, it is unlikely to provide them with any results in 2017.
The biggest loss is Sep Vanmarcke. The Belgian is yet to win a big classic but that is only a matter of time. Vanmarcke has long proved to be one of the three best riders for the Flemish classics and when he hasn’t taken that big win yet, it is mainly due to a waste of energy in the hard races. He seems to become better at gauging his effort and so he is knocking on the door of a big monument win. LottoNL-Jumbo have never managed to support him much at the pointy end of the races and so it is no surprise that he is leaving the team. His departure makes it very unlikely that the Dutch team will win a monument in 2017.
Lars Boom will return to the team as Vanmarcke’s replacement and he is definitely not a bad option. The Dutchman hasn’t won a big classic either but in general he is much stronger in those races that his results suggest. He has lacked a bit of luck in the big races but his win in the Tour de France stage on the cobbles at the 2014 Tour is a clear indication of his potential. Especially Paris-Roubaix suits him really well and he definitely has the talent to be on the podium in the Hell of the North. He has been less strong in the Flemish races though and is clearly not at Vanmarcke’s level. Nonetheless, his presence makes sure that LottoNL-Jumbo will have a real shot at the podium in the big races on the cobbles.
For the last few years, Wilco Kelderman has been one of the three stage race leaders in the team but the Dutchman will move to Sunweb in 2017. However, the loss may not be that significant. After his standout results at the 2014 Giro and the 2014 Dauphiné, Kelderman has improved in the time trial and lost his edge in the mountains. That has made him less competitive in stage races and the last two years have provided him with a string of disappointments. Nothing suggests that things are about to change and so it may not be a bad idea for LottoNL-Jumbo to turn their full attention to Robert Gesink and especially Steven Kruijswijk in the stage races.
In addition to Boom, the team have picked up another three riders from the WorldTour. In 2016, Kruijswijk proved that he can win a grand tour and when he announced the extension of his contract, it was clear that he had been promised to get better support in the mountains. However, he can’t be completely satisfied with the outcome of that reinforcement campaign. Kelderman will be leaving the team and instead Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Stef Clement have been added to the roster. Van Den Broeck is far from the rider he once was and his short stint at Katusha did nothing to prove that he is about to change things. Clement climbed better than ever in 2016 but even though he will be a valuable reinforcement, he will never be in among the final 10 riders in the mountain stages in the grand tours.
The dark horse among the new signings is Juan Jose Lobato. The Spaniard has proved that he is one of the best uphill sprinters in the world and in 2015, he even made John Degenkolb look like a junior in such finishes. However, his poor positioning skills have made him very inconsistent and in 2016 he barely achieved any results. At LottoNL-Jumbo he will have much better support though and this could be what allows him to flourish. The signing of the Spaniard is a big gamble but it has the potential to pay dividends.
The rest of the new signings are young talents. The most interesting addition is Floris De Tier. The Belgian is a promising climber who showed himself in several races in 2016. Most importantly, he was performing at a high level consistently throughout the entire season and this shows the signs of great recovery skills that could turn him into a solid stage racer. He is probably never going to be a big winner but he could develop into a very solid domestique in the grand tours. Antwan Tolhoek is another promising climber whose aggressive performance and win in the mountains competition at the Tour De Suisse proved that he can become a solid rider too. Finally, Daan Olivier will make his return to pro cycling after his surprise retirement at a very young age. During his short time at Giant-Shimano, he gave indications of his potential and if he can rediscover those legs, the team will have three solid young climbers on the roster.
Gijs Van Hoecke has been added as a domestique for the classic but is unlikely to play a significant role in the results. Finally, the team have added Amund Grondahl Jansen but it seems that the main purpose is to make it more probable for them to attract U23 World Champion Kristoffer Halvorsen from 2018 as Jansen has been his lead-out man at Team Joker. Nonetheless, Jansen will be given his chance as a leader in smaller sprint races like GP Samyn, Three Days of West-Flanders and Nokere Koerse.
In addition to Vanmarcke and Kelderman, the have lost two of their three sprinters. Moreno Hofland and Tom Van Asbroeck will both leave and that leaves them with just Dylan Groenewegen as a real srprinter. That means that they won’t be able to have a sprinter in every race. On the other hand, Hofland and Van Asbroeck never won a lot and it may not be a bad idea to fully focus on Groenewegen’s huge potential. Van Asbroeck’s progress seems to have stalled and even though he showed promising signs, Hofland failed to win a race in 2016.
The team has also lost Mike Teunissen which could potentially be a big loss. The Dutchman never lived up to the lofty promises during his time with the team but it was still too early to write him off. Finally, Dennis Van Winden will leave the team. On paper, that’s one lead-out man less but as he didn’t race much with Groenewegen, it is unlikely to be a big loss.
What to expect in the classics?
In the past few years, LottoNL-Jumbo have had one of the big favourites for the cobbled classics. The team may not have been able to support Sep Vanmarcke in the way he deserved but the Belgian made sure that they had a shot at victory in the two cobbled monuments and throughout most of the spring. Without Vanmarcke, that will change and the team will now be among the outsiders in the cobbled classics.
As said, it will be up to Lars Boom to fill Vanmarcke’s shoes and that won’t be easy. However, as we wrote in our transfer analysis, Boom is generally undervalued in the cobbled races. He hasn’t had much luck in the races that suit him the best and on several occasions he has shown that he can be one of the strongest riders in Paris-Roubaix. His return to a more familiar environment could suit him well and it is still too early to write Boom off, especially in the Hell of the North. On the other hand, he failed to reach his best level in 2016 and it remains to be seen whether he can finally live up to the lofty expectations. The Flemish races suit him less but if he can avoid bad luck, he should be able to finish in the top 10 in E3, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
We are very curious to see what Dylan Groenewegen can do in the classics. The Dutchman had a breakthrough season in 2016 but he mainly focused on the sprints. However, he also showed great strength in some of the smaller one-day races and in the Tour of Britain, and he definitely has the potential to do well in some of the harder races too. Of course he will never win Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders but he will give the team an option in easier races like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem. Furthermore, Milan-Sanremo should be within his reach but he may still lack the endurance to be competitive in the Italian classic in 2017.
Since Michael Boogerd announced his retirement, things have been difficult for LottoNL-Jumbo in the Ardennes. Robert Gesink was close to winning Amstel Gold Race a few years ago but the times when the team played a major role in the hilly one-day races are over. That won’t change in 2017. Gesink is likely to be the leader but unless he has a lot of luck, Amstel is too easy for him and he is not explosive enough to win Fleche Wallonne. Liege-Bastogne-Liege is his best chance and it won’t be impossible for him to finish in the top 5 there. His wins at the GP Quebec and Montreal show that he has a decent kick after a hard race and due to illness and injury, he has not had a real shot at Liege for several years. He is unlikely to win the race but with the form he has shown recently, he can make sure that the team don’t leave the Ardennes empty-handed. On paper, Enrico Battaglin is suited to the Amstel Gold Race too but it would be a bit of a gamble to bet too much on the inconsistent Italian.
In the autumn, Groenewegen will again be the main card. The Dutchman can win the races in Hamburg and Plouay if things go right. Gesink has been an aggressive rider in Lombardy in recent years and he has a great history in the races in Canada. He is capable of a top 10 finish in the Italian classic and if he doesn’t do the Vuelta, he should be strong in Canada too. The same goes for Battaglin but as said you never know what kind of form the Italian has.
What to expect in the grand tours?
After his heartbreaking near-miss in 2016, Steven Kruijswijk knows that he can win the Giro d’Italia and the biggest goal for the team in 2017 must be to try to repeat last year’s excellent performance in the Italian grand tour – albeit without the unfortunate end. Since he finally found a solution to his many health issues, Kruijswijk has had a very natural progress and finally confirmed the talent he showed in his early years. He will only turn 30 after the end of the race and so there is still room for progress for the Dutchman. There is no reason that he can’t improve on last year’s performance.
On paper, the course in Italy suits him really well as it has a solid mix of hilly time trialling and hard mountain stages. This year it seems that there will be lots of long climbs which is great for his climbing style and it is very important that the hardest stages come towards the end of the race where his diesel engine usually makes the difference in his favour. The team will be designed to support him fully and so we can expect him to have the likes of Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Stef Clement and Primoz Roglic at his side in the mountains. George Bennett finished in the top 10 in the Vuelta in 2016 and showed a clear improvement. He has openly admitted that he is unlikely to get any more freedom in 2017 and so he is very likely to ride in support of Kruijswijk in Italy. That will make the team considerably stronger – especially if Battaglin can find he legs he had in the Giro in 2016 – but it will still be hard for them to defend the lead if Kruijswijk takes the maglia rosa early in the race. It is unlikely that there will be room for any other objectives in the race.
In the Tour de France, the team has decided not to go for the GC with Robert Gesink. The Dutchman had a great Tour in 2015 when he finished best of the rest behind the former grand tour winners. In 2016, a bad crash meant that he missed the race and as he was still riding himself into form, he opted to go for stage wins in the Vuelta. He took a memorable win there and enjoyed the approach very much. Hence, he has decided for stage wins in the Tour in 2017. That leaves the team with two options: either they will a team that can both support Gesink for the GC and go for stage wins in the sprints with Dylan Groenewegen. Otherwise, they will probably build the team around their fast Dutchman and use Gesink as a free rider for the mountain stages. In any case, they will put a lot of emphasis on the sprints as Groenewegen has proved that he can beat even the fastest riders if he times things right.
In the Vuelta, the team will go for Kruijswijk again. In 2016, he fell ill before the race but there is no reason that he can’t go for two grand tours at this age. Gesink could also be present, probably with a focus on stage wins. The door should also be open for Juan Jose Lobato to finally do a grand tour with a bit of support. There are usually some uphill sprints in the Spanish grand tour which makes it perfectly possible that the home rider can get a maiden grand tour stage win.
What to expect elsewhere?
In 2015, LottoNL-Jumbo barely won a race. To improve on their victory tally, they decided to focus more on the sprints and that paid off. The signing of Dylan Groenewegen turned out to be one of the best of the 2015-2016 transfer campaign as the Dutchman confirmed that he is a top sprinter in the making. Hence, the team will have two big goals in 2017: to win a grand tour with Steven Kruijswijk and to win as much as possible with Groenewegen. Hence, we can expect the Dutchman to get full support throughout the entire year and he should start to win right from the start of the season at the Tour of Qatar. The team will build a strong train for him and the aim must be that he can add stage wins in WorldTour races to the many victories in smaller one-day races. In any case, he will be expected to win even more than he did in 2017.
LottoNL-Jumbo have rarely had much success in the one-week stage races. Steven Kruijswijk’s diesel engine is not suited to those races and in recent years Wilco Kelderman has been far from his best. Robert Gesink has been set back by health issues but if he can finally stay out of trouble throughout the spring, he should give the team option in most of the one-week races on the WorldTour. We are also curious to see what Primoz Roglic can do in those races. He is a natural climber and has turned out to be a bit of a TT specialist too. He still lacks some endurance and consistency but as he started to ride a bike at an old age, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Jos Van Emden has turned out to be one of the best in the world in short, flat time trials so it must be a big goal for him to win a WorldTour time trial at some point. This year he also showed that he can be competitive in the Eneco Tour if there is no hard stage in the Ardennes. Lars Boom has also done well in that race in the past and hopes that he can rediscover some of his lost TT skills. Victor Campenaerts and Primoz Roglic have also shown lots of TT progress and can be expected to continue their improvement.
It must also be a goal for the team to put Juan Jose Lobato’s career back on track. To benefit maximally from his talent, they need to give him the necessary support in uphill sprints. If that’s the case, he should win a few races for the team.
Finally, the team has improved a lot in the team time trials. There won’t be many TTTs on the menu in 2017 but they must be keen to target a medal at the World Championships in Norway.
Who’s ready to surprise?
Dylan Groenewegen was one of the big revelations of the 2016 season so he can hardly be described as a surprise. However, the Dutchman still has lots of room for improvement and the LottoNL-Jumbo train is getting stronger. Groenewegen has shown that he can beat the best and in 2017 he could very well get very close to the trio of Kittel, Greipel and Cavendish.
Primoz Roglic was known as a pure climber until he joined LottoNL-Jumbo. However, he turned into be a bit of a TT specialist in his first year at WorldTour level. He didn’t show much on the climbs, mostly because he still lacks some endurance and ability to save energy and position himself. However, the combination of TT and climbing skills means that he is capable of big things in the stage races. The question is whether 2017 is too early for him.
Daan Olivier shpwed promising signs during his 18 months at WorldTour level with Giant. It came as a big surprise that he suddenly retired at the midpoint of the 2015 season. Now he is back with new motivation and there is little doubt that he has the talent. With a more dedicated focus, he has the ability to climb well when he gets back into the racing rhythm after making his debut in late April or early May.
The same goes for Floris De Tier who had a great 2016 season. The Belgian should benefit from his move to a bigger team. He is a solid climber and his great consistency indicates that his recovery skills are good. This could turn him into a good GC rider for long stage races but he needs to improve his TT and 2017 is probably a bit too early for him.
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