Dutch newspaper the Algemeen Dagblad has pointed out that there was no Dutch winner of a Grand Tour stage this season for the first time since 2012.
The nation’s collective disappointment must be tempered, however, by the fact that Dutch WorldTour team Jumbo-Visma has just won the Vuelta a España for the second year in a row thanks to Slovenia’s Primož Roglič, who also finished second at the Tour de France in September.
In an article published on AD.nl after the final stage of the Vuelta in Madrid on Sunday, the newspaper reported that after Bauke Mollema put the nation back on track in 2013 with his stage victory at the Vuelta – riding for Dutch team Belkin, which later became Jumbo-Visma – Dutch riders have since taken at least two stage wins per year across the Tour, Vuelta and Giro d’Italia, up until this season.
In 2014, Pieter Weening won a stage at the Giro and Lars Boom at the Tour, and in 2015, all four stage victories came at the Vuelta, courtesy of Danny van Poppel, Bert-Jan Lindeman and two from Tom Dumoulin.
There was then another stage victory for Dumoulin at the Giro in 2016, and two more for him at that year’s Tour, while Robert Gesink won a stage at the Vuelta. Dumoulin then won twice at the 2017 Giro, and Jos van Emden won the Giro’s final time trial, and Mollema and Dylan Groenewegen took wins at the Tour.
Tom Dumoulin has been the Netherlands’ most successful Grand Tour stage winner since that barren 2012, with nine stage victories across all three three-week races, as well as overall victory at the 2017 Giro, which made him the first Dutch rider to win a Grand Tour since Joop Zoetemelk at the 1980 Tour de France.
Dumoulin’s fortunes may have waned a little since then, but he won another stage at the 2018 Giro en route to what was an ultimately unsuccessful defence of his title, missing out to Team Sky’s Chris Froome by just 46 seconds. And at the 2018 Tour, the Dutchman took what remains his most-recent Grand Tour stage victory, while Groenewegen sprinted to two more Tour wins.
Last year it was down to Groenewegen and Jumbo-Visma teammate Mike Teunissen to take a stage win apiece at the Tour, while Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Fabio Jakobsen nabbed two stages at the Vuelta.
It would be very reasonable to have expected Jakobsen to have taken at least one more stage victory at one of this year’s Grand Tours, after the Dutch sprinter’s two successes during his debut at the 2019 Vuelta. However his terrible crash at the Tour de Pologne in early August put an immediate end to the 24-year-old’s 2020 season.
The Netherlands’ lack of a stage victory in 2020 should nevertheless be put in perspective.
Primož Roglič isn’t Dutch, but his overall 2019 Vuelta victory, his successful title defence this year and his second-place at this year’s Tour – where the Slovenian only lost the yellow jersey to compatriot Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), have made for a very successful season for the Netherlands’ Jumbo-Visma outfit.
Manager Richard Plugge and his team’s efforts over the past eight years, including some canny signings – Wout van Aert in early 2019 and Dumoulin ahead of this season, for example – have rocketed the squad into the enviable position of being the best stage-racing team in the world right now, usurping the almost untouchable Ineos Grenadiers in their previous guises as Team Sky and Team Ineos.
Dutch riders will win Grand Tour stages again – no doubt as soon as next season – and, in tandem with Jumbo-Visma’s continued GC ambitions, the Netherlands will remain as one of the world’s foremost cycling nations.