Preview on 2022 with Danny Stam on 2022

Preview on 2022 with Danny Stam on 2022

Sports manager Danny Stam looks ahead to the 2022 cycling season, with Anna van der Breggen in the follow car

03/03/2022

The first Worldtour race is just around the corner with Strade Bianche. After an extremely successful 2021, expectations for Team SD Worx are high. Last year many important races were won and the season ended in a convincing first place in the UCI ranking. However, last winter multiple winner Anna van der Breggen traded in her bike for the team car. Nevertheless, Team SD Worx will not start the race dismantled. "Certainly not, we are very strong across the board. This season you won't be able to get around us either," assures sporting director Danny Stam.

Linked cyclists Chantal Van Den Broek-Blaak Lotte Kopecky Demi Vollering Elena Cecchini Niamh Fisher-Black Christine Majerus Ashleigh Moolman Marlen Reusser Anna Shackley Lonneke Uneken Roxane Fournier Blanka Vas Amy Pieters

2021 was a top year. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Course and the entire Giro podium, an impressive list. Can that be equalled?

Danny Stam: "That's finger-wagging. Every year we think: 'last season was so special, we will hardly be able to match that'. Yet we almost always succeed. Of course we miss Anna as a classification rider, so to take the whole podium will be more difficult."

How will the team cope with the loss of Anna van der Breggen?

"No one is irreplaceable, but it is not easy to absorb. Anna is a very special person. If she had her mind on something, she rarely missed that race. That is what we will miss. Yet we remain very strong in the width. With, among others, Demi Vollering, Marlen Reusser and Lotte Kopecky, you can reach the finals. Only, the specific competitions where you could excel with Anna, we now have to come up with a different approach."

Will Demi Vollering be pushed forward in those races?

"Demi has proven that she can handle those races perfectly, but then you are not Anna van der Breggen. You will only meet such a rider a few times in the century. Leontien van Moorsel, Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen are/were riders of a rare calibre. Demi proved last year that she has the talent. But the difference in level with these world-class riders cannot be erased in one season. We cannot expect that from Demi either. Let her grow quietly.

She will be looked at more emphatically this season. Do you think she will be able to handle the pressure?
"I think so, yes. The Women's Tour is a good example of that. Anna wasn't riding there, all the pressure was on Demi and with the help of our riders she finished nicely. So I don't expect that pressure to be a problem."
 

What do you expect from newcomers Lars Boom and Anna van der Breggen in the staff? What can they teach the riders?
"It is good that there is a fresh wind blowing in the staff. Anna is the ideal person to stand between me and Lars. From her own experience she can show our riders how they can become a top rider. Anna can add extra facets that we miss. As a man we sometimes take certain things too much for granted. Lars can also teach us tactical things. As a trio we don't differ much tactically or technically. The reinforcements in the staff will push the team to a higher level."

Who will be the surprise this year? 
"Marlen Reusser. I think that her many capacities can be shown off a bit more in our team. The same goes for Lotte Kopecky. It is nice to have a team around you that is strong in width. That is liberating and it is easier to race. With us, you can win a race even with bad legs."

Explain.
"We always have several spearheads. If you are the only leading rider, you can't hide. Then they look at you. With us, there are so many top riders around you, that you can stay in the shadow and make the difference with one well-timed attack. The rest of the team then stops.
 

The balance between youth and experience is good. We certainly have some talent ready. 

Is that the strength of Team SD Worx?
"Of course it is. It's easier to race when you have riders like Chantal Blaak, Demi Vollering or Marlen Reusser around you, rather than riders who are happy to just keep up. You are simply stronger for the finals. And then there's the favour factor in our team.

How is the balance between experience and youth?
"Good. We certainly have some talent ready. That is also necessary. Because the Anna van der Breggens and Chantal Blaaks of this world will eventually stop racing. We give them the environment to develop themselves. We are always looking for the ideal balance between experience and youth. That is why I am happy that Chantal Blaak will continue racing for a while. That way we keep enough experience on the bike. With Amy Pieters, we are missing an experienced rider who has been a dominant presence in every race she has participated in."

If you could choose just one race to win this season, which race would it be?
"Only one? (laughs) Then the Tour de France. It's a new high-level race, you make history if you are the first to win the Tour."

What does the arrival of the Tour de France mean for women's cycling?
"First of all, I find it strange that the Tour is only now returning. It could have been done earlier. It offers an extra dimension for women's cycling again. The criticism that it only lasts one week, I find a non issue. The quality has to be good. Rather a super attractive short Tour, than a boring spectacle of two weeks.

Dominant racing is in our DNA. Because that number one position, it has to stay ours.

Danny Stam

Last year, Team SD Worx immediately started on a high with wins in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche. Last weekend Vollering finished second in the Omloop, what do you expect for Strade?

"The performance in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad gives confidence. If you don't get away with it in the first race, you are behind for a long time. I wanted to start at a level where the others think, 'Wow, here they are again.' That worked out. In the Strade we will be looking for victory. Dominant racing is in our DNA. Because that number one position, it has to stay ours."

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