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Jumbo-Visma ready to take next step, with or without Jumbo

Jumbo-Visma looks to build an even stronger team for the future, even after a five-consecutive-win opening at the spring classics.

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WAREGEM, Belgium (VN) — The story of the day at Dwars door Vlaanderen – apart from the fifth Jumbo-Visma victory in a row at the pavé spring classics – was the news that Jumbo is re-evaluating its sponsorship engagements.

Jumbo supermarkets are known to invest a lot of money in the Jumbo-Visma team which includes a speed skating division, in addition to motor sports with F1 driver Max Verstappen. Jumbo-Visma general manager Richard Plugge was on site in Waregem on Wednesday to celebrate Christophe Laporte’s second win of the week and yet another strong team performance. After the race, Plugge took time to talk to the awaiting media at the Jumbo-Visma team bus and share his view on the news that sponsor Jumbo might cut back on its commitment.

“We’re not worried. I can confirm the news and I understand that it’s been a topic for Jumbo for a while. The new CEO of the Jumbo company Ton van Veen is blowing a fresh wind through the company and they’re re-evaluating all their sponsorship deals. I can confirm that we are talking with each other to see what the next steps can be,” Plugge said.

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A journalist asked if that would be without Jumbo. “Or with them. That’s what we are looking into. As a team we reached the top. Our challenge will be to see how we can stay there. How can we win the Tour even more often? To achieve that we need commitment from all our partners. We’ve got very strong partners behind us who are committed to make the next step. We want to grow even bigger than we are right now. We’re looking into how we can do that, with all our partners.”

“The current contract includes 2024 so we can go on without worries. There’s no reason for panic. We’re paving the way. We’ve got more partners apart from Jumbo but we hope — with the late Karel van Eerd on my mind — that we can keep on working together the way we’re doing it now. Our team slogan is “samen winnen” (winning together). We win with Jumbo. We created that slogan together with the late Karel van Eerd who sadly passed away in December. Building the team, shaping the long term plan is something we do together with our partners.”

Next Sunday, Ton van Veen will be present at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. “We’ll see what the outcome of their evaluation is. We’ll learn about that at some point. Maybe you’ll be able to ask him that yourself next Sunday at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Our challenge is to find out how we can become the better version of ourselves. Right now we’ve got a winning streak of five wins in a row. That’s unheard of. To improve ourselves we probably need international partners, like PON, Visma and also Jumbo is still enthusiastic.

Jumbo might be out of the picture as a team sponsor after 2024. But talks are early and anything could happen (Photo by JASPER JACOBS/Belga/AFP via Getty Images).

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“The contract can’t be concluded prematurely. Then again, if one of the partners wants to terminate the contract you talk with each other and find a solution that pleases both parties.”

When talking about the actual racing, Plugge explained that the other teams were riding against Jumbo-Visma. When the breakaway goes up the road it’s up to the men in yellow to chase them back. The team banks on Edoardo Affini to control that part of the race.

“That was already the case today,” Plugge said. “All day long Edo [Edoardo Affini] was pulling alone in the peloton to control the breakaway. That’s the downside of the benefit of winning five times in a row. We’ll have to accept that. During the race I told the others in the car that it will become increasingly harder. You’ve seen that Trek had a move ready. I assume it didn’t go fully according to plan and we were able to take over the command later on Berg Ten Houtte. It’s great to see that it worked out. More teams were involved. It was good.”

Plugge was well aware that the most important pavé classics were still to come: the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix. After the Belgian opening weekend Plugge was asked about the lack of results in the early season and he reacted by saying in French: “Les premières crêpes sont pour les enfants.” When one makes pancakes, the first ones often aren’t perfectly baked but good enough to make the children happy.

Velonews asked Plugge if the five next pancakes tasted good. “They tasted very good, for sure. That was a 1-2 with a certain French journalist who was surprised at the eve of the Belgian opening weekend that we were well down the WorldTour rankings in 26th position.”

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