Home Features Analysing Jumbo-Visma's Giro d'Italia line-up

Analysing Jumbo-Visma’s Giro d’Italia line-up

Jumbo-Visma left the Tour de France without the yellow jersey, having dominated the race as a collective unit for 20 of the 21 stages. They head to the Giro d’Italia with an overall contender in Steven Kruijswijk but will race with a different approach. 

With the Tour team packed full of the team’s strongest riders, the Giro line-up features a younger, more inexperienced cast, with Grand Tour debuts handed to Tobias Foss and Chris Harper. Antwan Tolhoek and Koen Boumwan are tasked with supporting Kruijswijk, while Tony Martin and Jos Van Emden raise the average age and add time trial prowess. 

“We will not ride that aggressively, because we have a completely different team here, with less experience and a few young riders who will ride their first Grand Tour,” Kruijswijk made clear.

“We won’t not ride as the favorite like they did the Tour. We have to be realistic about our goals and our team. ”

As with Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma’s Giro plans have changed considerably since they set out their plans ahead of the 2020 season. Kruijswijk was meant to ride  the Tour, with George Bennett to lead at the Giro, but the Dutchman fractured his shoulder at the Critérium du Dauphiné and now gets another crack at a race he came so close to winning four years ago. 

Here, we take an in-depth look at the eight-man line-up.

Steven Kruijswijk

  • Age: 33
  • Giros raced: 7
  • Best result: 4th overall, 2016

Kruijswijk after his crash on the Colle dell'Agnello downhill during the 19th stage of the 99th Giro d'Italia

Kruijswijk after his crash on the Colle dell’Agnello downhill during the 19th stage of the 99th Giro d’Italia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Having previously planned to send all their stars to France, Kruijswijk’s presence gives Jumbo-Visma a genuine contender for the title. 

Kruiswijk finished third at last year’s Tour de France and has finished in the top 10 of the Giro on three occasions. The 2016 Giro stands out, as he was in the pink jersey and looking good for overall victory when he crashed on the descent of the Colle dell’Agnello. There’s unfinished business, not least because the Agnello is back on the menu this year.

However, there are big question marks over Kruijswijk’s form. He hasn’t raced since crashing out of the Dauphiné, and only has seven race days to his name all season. 

Meanwhile, all his major rivals – including Geraint Thomas, who also had to sit out the Tour – have tangible proof that they’re on track. Kruijswijk’s shoulder has had enough time to heal, and he recently completed an altitude training camp in Tignes, but he may well feel that lack of racing, especially with a summit finish as early as stage 3. 

Still, if there’s someone you could rely on to perform in spite of the turbulence, it’s probably Kruijswijk, a broad-shouldered picture of consistency, who will also welcome the abundance of time trialling. 

So while the opening few days will be a test, he’ll be hoping he can grow into the race and come into his own in the back-to-back efforts of that brutally hard final week.

Tobias Foss

Foss on the stage at the teams' presentation

Foss on the stage at the teams’ presentation (Image credit: Getty Images)

Winning the Tour de l’Avenir automatically comes with the glare of a spotlight, and the cycling world will be keeping a close eye on the Norwegian 23-year-old as he makes his Grand Tour debut. 

Not much would be expected in normal circumstances, but the wave of young talent winning big and winning early has very much shifted the landscape of the sport. In his own way, Foss’ development has already been fast-tracked – he told us in December that a Grand Tour wasn’t on the cards in his debut pro season. 

Still, this Giro will primarily be a learning exercise, and who better to learn from than Kruijswijk, a rider who has plenty of experience and is also of a similar profile. Like the Dutchman, Foss is bigger than the pure climbers, but has the sort of engine that can produce long, sustained endurance efforts, and back it up day after day, even if the third week will be uncharted territory. 

If Foss can end up offering support to Kruijswijk, as well as learning form him, then it’ll be a successful debut Grand Tour.

Tony Martin

  • Age: 35
  • Giros raced: 2
  • Best result: 2nd on stages in 2008 and 2018

vuelta espana 2019 stage 8

Tony Martin at last year’s Vuelta (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Having spent hours pulling the Tour de France peloton along, the 35-year-old starts a second Grand Tour of the season less than two weeks after riding into Paris. 

The four-time time trial world champion has thrived in the Jumbo-Visma engine room since joining in 2018, finding a new niche controlling breakaways and policing the peloton for Grand Tour contenders. He’ll bring that to the table at the Giro, but without the same level of responsibility or workload. 

In Kruijswijk, the team have a contender but not the big favourite, while the rest of the squad is a far cry from the Tour line-up and cannot reasonably be expected to dictate proceedings in the same way. Add in the absence of Dylan Groenewegen, and so nothing to play for on the sprint stages, and there’s even less for Martin to do. 

While he’ll still play an important role in the overall picture, he may also be afforded the kind of freedom he hasn’t enjoyed in the past couple of Grand Tours – to target the three time trials. How much he wants to is another question. He seems happy to have left personal ambitions aside in this late phase of his career and hasn’t won a time trial – outside of the German nationals – since his fourth world title in 2016. 

The German’s palmares is extensive, but it’s worth pointing out he’s never won a stage at the Giro, which he’s only ridden twice. A stage win would complete the Grand Tour set. Then again, going to the Giro was never really about personal ambition; he is due to become a father in November and spoke of a ‘compromise’ in doing the Giro instead of the Vuelta, as was originally envisaged.

Jos van Emden

  • Age: 35
  • Giros raced: 8
  • Best result: 1st, stage 21, 2017

Jos van Emden

Van Emden is a time trial specialist (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Along with Martin, Jos van Emden stands out as a rouleur in this team of climbers, and as a 35-year-old in a team of youngsters. 

He has only missed three editions of the Giro in the past 12 years, and has a good set of time trial results to his name, the crowning glory being his stage win on the final day of the 2017 edition. 

After finishing seventh in the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial and 21st at Worlds, he doesn’t have the form to suggest he can repeat that but will nevertheless be one to watch, especially on the final day, which is the flattest and most straight forward of the three time trials. 

Aside from that, like Martin, he can be put to work on the flat.

Antwan Tolhoek

  • Age: 26
  • Giros raced: 1
  • Best result: 65th overall, 2019

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The baby-faced, feather-weight climber returns to the Giro after something of a chastening experience last year. 

Primoz Roglic took an early lead but then ran into difficulty, and was left exposed in a team that was expected to lend stronger support. Tolhoek was regularly dropped before being able to offer up any real assistance in the mountains, and it was therefore a disappointing debut Giro for the rider who had already done the Vuelta and the Tour. He wasn’t invited back as Roglic went for the Vuelta, and this will be his first Grand Tour since last year’s Giro. 

Still, the 26-year-old is a work in progress and is considered a talent on the up – after the Giro he won a fine stage at the Tour de Suisse. Since then he has recorded top-15s at Tour de Pologne, Tour of Guangxi, Ruta del Sol, and Il Lombardia. 

This is a chance to show he’s learned the lessons of last year, and has the consistency to support a GC leader deep into the mountains.

Koen Bouwman

  • Age: 26
  • Giros raced: 2
  • Best result: 41st overall, 2019

Bouwman at the 2019 Giro

Bouwman at the 2019 Giro (Image credit: Getty Images)

Like Tolhoek, Bouwman was part of the Roglic support cast that misfired at last year’s Giro. This is also his first Grand Tour since then, and the similarities with Tolhoek extend to their ages – both are 26 – and the fact they both signed two-year contract extensions at the end of 2019. 

Jumbo-Visma are developing rapidly as a team, with several Grand Tour leaders, and the Dutchman has a chance to use the experiences of last year’s Giro and step up as a Grand Tour domestique. 

With Laurens De Plus, who was meant to ride the Tour de France, not deemed fit enough for the Giro, there is a particular burden on the shoulders of both Bouwman and Tolhoek.

Chris Harper

Jumbo-Visma’s Chris Harper leads the way on stage 4 of the 2020 Tour de la Provence

Harper at the Tour de la Provence (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Along with Foss, Chris Harper is one of two Grand Tour debutants in the Jumbo-Visma line-up. The Australian turns 26 next month and yet is only in his first season as a fully fledged professional. 

In an era of early bloomers, Harper’s rise has been slow and steady, but the consensus is that he’s still very much on the up. 

While the top teams are increasingly looking for the next Evenepoel or Pogacar, fresh from the juniors, Jumbo-Visma took the decision to pluck Harper from the Continental circuit, where he had cut his teeth on the Australian and Asian circuit, with a few European opportunities thrown in for good measure. 

In the end, his climbing performances – victories in the Tour of Japan and Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc – were hard to ignore, and he has since settled seamlessly into WorldTour life, with 29 race days in this strange season and not one DNF, plus a notable 12th place at the Ruta del Sol. 

Harper has earned his Grand Tour debut and it’ll be a learning experience, as much in terms of how to race a Grand Tour as for how far he can go.

Christoph Pfingsten

  • Age: 32
  • Giros raced: 1
  • Best result: 58th overall, 2018

Pfingsten at Tirreno-Adriatico

Pfingsten at Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Getty Images)

Completing Jumbo-Visma’s line-up is the versatile German, who spent much of his early career at Continental level before riding for Bora-Hansgrohe for the past five seasons. 

He signed for Jumbo-Visma on a one-year contract and that has now been extended into 2021. He has no wins to his name, and has only ridden three Grand Tours. He’ll be deployed as a domestique on a variety of terrain.


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