Jumbo-Visma Team Talk: What does life after Roglič look like?

GCN reviews the Dutch team's stunning 2023 campaign and looks ahead to 2024, with the spotlight firmly on Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss following Primož Roglič's departure

Clock16:29, Thursday 2nd November 2023
Jumbo-Visma won all three Grand Tours in 2023

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Jumbo-Visma won all three Grand Tours in 2023

Jumbo-Visma made history in 2023, becoming the first men’s team to ever win three Grand Tours in a single season – and they did it with three different riders after Primož Roglič claimed the Giro d’Italia, Jonas Vingegaard defended his Tour de France title, and Sepp Kuss finished the job with an astonishing victory at the Vuelta a España.

Although the team missed out on the top spot of the UCI’s rankings to UAE Team Emirates, few would argue that Jumbo-Visma weren’t the team of 2023, especially in stage racing.

More than just a Grand Tour winning machine, the team also boast an incredible level of depth, with Wout van Aert leading the line in the spring Classics, a string of world class super domestiques such as former Paris-Roubaix winner Dylan van Baarle and veteran climber Robert Gesink, plus a prolific sprinter in Olav Kooij. There’s little that team Jumbo-Visma cannot do, on paper at least.

While 2023 was a stellar campaign that is unlikely to be matched in the next few years, team boss Richard Plugge is facing several major issues going forward. The botched merger with Soudal Quick-Step illustrated the fragile conditions that even the biggest and best teams face and, although the departure of Roglič creates space in terms of roster and finances, it also leaves the team weaker in the short term.

A more pressing concern might be whether talks surrounding a new race league, and Plugge’s heavy involvement in the project, create an unwelcome distraction for the rest of the team. 

Read more:

GCN’s 2023 Review

There’s no other place to start in looking back on Jumbo-Visma’s season than with the team's complete domination of the Grand Tours. Roglič may have won the Giro by a slim margin but few would argue with the fact that, when it mattered most, he was the strongest rider in the race. At the Tour de France, Vingegaard kept a valiant Tadej Pogačar at arm's length before crushing him in the final week, while the complete podium shut-out at the Vuelta, with Kuss leading Vingegaard and Roglič, was something never seen in cycling before.

In terms of WorldTour stage racing, the team were virtually untouchable. They went from an already impressive 48 wins in 2022 to 69 victories 12 months later. Away from the Grand Tours, those wins included overall success in Tirreno-Adriatico, the Critérium du Dauphiné, Volta Catalunya, Itzulia Basque Country, ZLM Tour, Vuelta a Burgos, and the Gree-Tour of Guangxi. It would have be easier to list out the WorldTour stage races they didn’t win.

In stage racing terms, there's never been a team this impressive, and the 2023 version of Jumbo-Visma would arguably wipe the floor with any of the superpowers we’ve seen in the last couple of decades, including Team Sky at their absolute peak.

Read more: Is Jumbo-Visma's Vuelta a España team better than Team Sky at their best?

Away from the stage racing arena, the team have picked up a number of high profile wins, including victories in Gent-Wevelgem, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, and E3 Saxo Classic. Kooij continued his career trajectory with a double-digit season and looks set for a Grand Tour debut in 2024 after signing a long-term deal with the team.

The only blemish – and much has been made of this due to the fact that the team were so strong in stage racing – was that Van Aert didn’t win a Monument.

It’s quite a staggering situation when a season can be considered a failure – in some quarters – for not winning Flanders or Roubaix, but at the same time it’s accurate to suggest that Van Aert didn’t hit the lofty objectives he was aiming for at the start of the year.

Read more: Nearly man? Wout van Aert's growing list of near misses

He won just one WorldTour race all season and, despite being in the mix of a number of other major one-day races – third in both Roubaix and Milan-San Remo – he was often on the wrong end of a Pogačar or Van der Poel masterclass. There’s no shame in that, but the Belgian will want to rectify the situation in 2024.

The new recruits in 2023 delivered in nearly every area, too. Wilco Kelderman was immense in two Grand Tours as a super domestique, Jan Tratnik raced sparingly but came up trumps in the Vuelta, while Attila Valter had a very underrated but solid campaign. Dylan van Baarle solidified his position as the best pound-for-pound domestique on the men’s side – as well as winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – while Thomas Gloag was showing a lot of promise until his season was derailed by an incident in training caused by a driver.

GCN rating: 9/10

The best team in the world for anyone who doesn’t keep track of the UCI rankings.

Ins & Outs

Losing Roglič to Bora-Hansgrohe will certainly be a major blow for the team in terms of leadership and win rate. The Slovenian became the pillar for the squad during their lean years and grew with the Dutch outfit as they began to transform themselves into the most powerful team in the world. Losing a rider like that – while it may balance the books and provide instant opportunities for a new generation of riders – will almost certainly lead to a dip in success, at least in the short-term.

Nathan Van Hooydonck’s unscripted retirement is another blow but the losses of Sam Oomen, Rohan Dennis and Tobias Foss won’t be detrimental to the team’s ambitions. Dennis basically stopped racing in May, and Foss was deemed surplus to requirements once Ineos began making their interest known. Oomen is a very dependable rider but Jumbo-Visma have younger talent ready to step up.

Matteo Jorgenson is the obvious big-name signing with the American penning a three-year contract after leaving Movistar. There’s no like-for-like replacement for Roglič but Jorgenson will be dovetailing with Kuss and Vingegaard for much of the season with the view of providing backup across various terrains. Ben Tulett joining from Ineos Grenadiers is a major coup of the Dutch team, and reinforces the notion that Ineos is no longer a draw for young riders in the way it once was.

Per Strand Hagenes, Johannes Staune-Mittet and Loe Van Belle are three stars from the Jumbo development programme, while Bart Lemmen is a 28-year-old all-rounder from the second division Human Powered Health team who will add versatility to an already stacked engine room.

Where Jumbo-Visma’s wins will come in 2024

Vingegaard will concentrate on quality over quantity, and will likely fixate on a traditional Tour de France programme, before a possible tilt at the Vuelta in the late summer. However, if he wins the Tour it doesn’t really matter what else he does for the rest of the year.

With Roglič suited and booted in Bora kit, Kuss will relish the chance to lead the team in a batch of week-long stage races, and while he doesn’t have the skillset of the Slovenian, he could be a match for a number of rivals in races like Tirreno-Adriatico and a clutch of Spanish stage races. All indications point to a super domestique role for the American at the Tour, followed by a leadership spot at the Vuelta.

Read more: Sepp Kuss rules out starting Giro d’Italia in 2024

Kooij will surely have a chance of racing a Grand Tour in 2024, with the most likely opportunity coming at the Giro d’Italia in May. If he can match his win tally from 2023, and raise the bar on the number of those wins that come from the WorldTour, it’ll represent a hugely successful campaign for the Dutch rider.

The team will expect the likes of Tulett, Jorgenson, and Staune-Mittet to hit the ground running as new arrivals but the layers of talent within the team mean that Dylan van Baarle, Christophe Laporte, Attila Valter and Tiesj Benoot will be trusted to chip in with victories.

The real question is when and where Van Aert can pick up wins. So much will depend on his race programme, with rumblings of a Giro bid surely a hurdle when it comes to form in the spring Classics. Like Vingegaard, the Belgian only needs to take one or two wins to move his season from the successful to the sensational column but it’ll be a major task in the Classics if Pogačar and Van der Poel are on song once more. Van Aert will definitely take wins, and he’s a major favourite for the green jersey at the Tour de France.

Jumbo-Visma's next breakout rider

Tulett, Jorgenson and Kooij... their ilk should already be on your radar if you’ve been following WorldTour level racing for the last couple of years, and while they could all have exceptional seasons, we’re going to highlight Johannes Staune-Mittet.

The Norwegian, who is just 21, has come up through the ranks via the Jumbo development team and has already dabbled in senior level racing, including outings at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, Volta ao Algarve, and the Tour of Norway. However, it’s at U23 level where his results have been truly exceptional. A win in the Next Gen Giro in 2023 came after a 2022 victory in the Ronde de l'Isard and second overall in the Tour de l'Avenir. He can climb, he can time trial, and by all accounts within Jumbo-Visma he has the perfect temperament for WorldTour level stage racing. Contracted with the team until the end of 2026, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make a name for himself next season and sign a bumper contract extension by the end of the year.

Special mention to Thomas Gloag who we shouldn’t forget joined the team at the start of 2023 after a highly promising two years at Trinity Racing. A serious injury ended his season early after a driver hit the young rider during a training session. It’s unclear when exactly he will return to action in 2024 but he’s worth following as he builds back his form and fitness. He’s just not a rider who needs undue pressure on his shoulders.

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What do you think of Jumbo-Visma’s 2023 season? Can they go better in 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

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