Analysing Jumbo-Visma’s Vuelta a España team

With Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič as co-leaders, Jumbo-Visma go in search of a clean sweep at the Grand Tours

Clock09:08, Wednesday 23rd August 2023
The reigning Giro d'Italia and Tour de France champions will prove a tough ask to beat

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

The reigning Giro d'Italia and Tour de France champions will prove a tough ask to beat

Jumbo-Visma head into the Vuelta a España with arguably the strongest team in the race. The Dutch team - aiming for a clean sweep of Grand Tours in 2023 - arrive in Barcelona with Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard and three-time Vuelta a España winner Primož Roglič given the billing as co-leaders. It’s a mouth-watering double act with the Slovenian aiming for a record-setting fourth Vuelta title to add to his Giro d'Italia win from earlier this year, while Vingegaard searches for back-to-back Grand Tour wins after his summer success.

Behind the leadership pair are a set of super domestiques that would grace any WorldTour team on the planet, with Wilco Kelderman and Sepp Kuss adding value in the mountains, Robert Gesink providing unmatchable experience, and Dylan van Baarle, Jan Tratnik and Attila Valter bolstering depth and power to the core of the squad.

Primož Roglič

Age: 33
Vuelta a España pedigree: A three-time winner.
Rider role: GC leader
Rider analysis: Roglič’s role and position is one of the most interesting plots within this year’s race. He’s aiming for a record-setting fourth title, and the chance to win a second Grand Tour in a single year. Added to that is the ambition of helping Jumbo-Visma complete their hat trick of Grand Tour titles. Form wise, the Slovenian is right where he needs to be. He was a convincing winner in Burgos, is fresh after a decent break during the summer, and has relatively little pressure on his shoulders given his success in May. That said, the addition of Jonas Vingegaard to the line-up creates a potential distraction. Every press conference, and every post-stage interview will be overshadowed by leadership questions, and while Roglič has the temperament to handle such scenarios, it’s a distraction that Remco Evenepoel doesn’t have hanging over him. Who knows, perhaps the dual leadership at Jumbo will spur the pair to go 1-2 in Madrid, and perhaps Roglič will set the record for Vuelta wins with Vingegaard acting as the loyal domestique with the understanding that the favour will be repaid next year. The next three weeks will decide not only the Vuelta winner but the finer details of the leadership dynamic at Jumbo-Visma for the next twelve months.

Read more: Vuelta a España previous winners

Jonas Vingegaard

Age: 26
Vuelta a España pedigree: One start, finishing 46th overall in 2020.
Rider role: GC leader
Rider analysis: Vingegaard made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España back in 2020, finishing 46th overall at almost two hours down on winner and teammate Roglič. Since then the Dane has transformed himself into the most successful Grand Tour rider in the world with back-to-back Tour wins and a second place in 2021. It’s been a remarkable transformation for a rider who looked relatively unremarkable just a few seasons ago. The next step on Vingegaard’s odyssey is to take aim at the Tour-Vuelta double - a feat not achieved since Chris Froome in 2017. He hasn’t turned a pedal in anger since the Tour but convention goes out of the window when discussing a rider who has won every stage race he’s entered bar one since the start of the year. There’s no doubt Vingegaard is a strong favourite for the title but the dynamic between him and Roglič will be fascinating to observe. A telling moment could be the opening TTT when we see who leads the team over the line for what should be the first red jersey of the race.

Wilco Kelderman

Age: 32
Vuelta a España pedigree: Five starts, and two top-ten finishes.
Rider role: Super domestique
Rider analysis: Once a Grand Tour leader in his own right, Kelderman has nestled in as a luxury super domestique during his second spell with the Dutch team. Solid in the time trial and highly efficient in the mountains, he has the talent to support either Roglič or Vingegaard on the toughest of terrains, and despite already competing in the Tour de France he’s only racked up 36 race days so far. He should still have enough fuel in the tank to provide admirable cover during the Vuelta.

Robert Gesink

Age: 37
Vuelta a España pedigree: Nine starts, and one stage win.
Rider role: Road captain
Rider analysis: His best days might be behind him but Gesink is still a force to be reckoned with in Grand Tours and stage racing. His experience is second to none and he’s been an ever-present sidekick in all of Roglič's Vuelta wins. At 37, he doesn't quite have the mountain prowess he once had but in the medium mountain stages, the veteran can still do an effective job. With retirement on the horizon at the end of 2024, this could be his final Grand Tour outing, and he’ll want to end with a flourish.

Sepp Kuss

Age: 28
Vuelta a España pedigree: Five starts, one stage win.
Rider role: Super domestique
Rider analysis: The American is aiming to complete all three Grand Tours in a single season - an incredible feat given that he’s also been part of two winning teams at both the Giro and the Tour. At 28 it’s becoming increasingly clear that Kuss is not seen as a potential out-right leader for three-week stage races but his place as one of the best mountain domestiques - if not the best - is certainly solidified. On his day he’s as good, if not better, than most of the opposition’s Grand Tour leaders, and in that regard, he’s very similar to Richie Porte in his heyday at Team Sky. With two top-15 rides in Grand Tours already in the bank in 2023 the only question is whether he can sustain that level until the end of the Vuelta. The team wouldn’t have even considered him for action if he’d not recovered from the Tour but a well-earned rest is surely on the cards for Madrid.

Dylan van Baarle

Age: 31
Vuelta a España pedigree: Four starts.
Rider role: Domestique
Rider analysis: Pound for pound the best domestique in the world right now, Van Baarle neatly weaves together the tapestry between the rouleurs and the pure climbers within the Jumbo-Visma squad. Like a number of the riders on this list the 31-year-old is coming off the back of a Tour de France but despite that, and the fact he rode a number of Classics, the Dutchman should be relatively fresh for the Vuelta. Van Baarle has also raced the Tour-Vuelta double for a number of years now, so he knows exactly what’s expected of him and with a depth of talent around him he should be able to slot into his natural role as the race opens up. Probably the heir apparent to Gesink when it comes to being the team’s road captain.

Jan Tratnik

Age: 33
Vuelta a España pedigree: One start.
Rider role: Domestique
Rider analysis: A crash on the eve of the Giro d’Italia robbed the new signing of his Grand Tour debut for the team but Tratnik is back for the Vuelta and should be the freshest rider on the roster given that he’s only raced once since the spring. He will be integral in the team time trial on stage 1 but his exact scope for the rest of the race will take a few days to determine. There’s no doubting his abilities but exactly where he slots into the mountain train might take time to develop.

Read more: Vuelta a España Stage 1 (TTT) preview

Attila Valter

Age: 25
Vuelta a España pedigree: Making his Vuelta debut.
Rider role: Domestique
Rider analysis: Like Tratnik, Valter is making his Grand Tour debut for Jumbo-Visma at the Vuelta a España. A talented all-rounder, he’ll be expected to help tow the team around in the opening TTT, and then settle into his duties as a domestique on the flat and in the mountains. The Hungarian road and time trial champion has been a dependable addition to the Dutch team since signing from Groupama-FDJ over the winter, and provides real horsepower to the Jumbo-Visma engine room.

We’ll be showing live and on-demand coverage of all 21 stages of this year’s Vuelta a España from Saturday, August 26 to Sunday, September 17, plus daily expert analysis on The Breakaway. Head over to GCN+ now to check the start times of each broadcast so that you don’t miss out on a moment of the action! As always, territory restrictions will apply.

If you head to our Vuelta a España landing page, you will find everything you need to know ahead of the race, including our race preview, the route, start list and individual stage previews. Check it out for all that and more.

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