It was an unconventional start of the season for Boels Dolmans Cycling Team as riders and staff have travelled to Ischgl, Austria, for a ski trip before heading to the first team camp of the year. It is a gift from sponsor Erwin Janssen, CEO of Dolmans Landscaping Group, and comes from an interesting bet.
“Three years ago, the ski trip promise popped up during the annual Dolmans clinic,” says Janssen. “After the clinic, I closed a fun bet with the girls. If they met three criteria, I would take them all on a ski trip.”
The three performance goals Janssen had set out for them were winning the team time trial at the world championships, winning the Tour of Flanders and finishing first or second in the UCI team ranking at the end of the season. With Lizzie Deignan's victory in Flanders, the first achievement was delivered early in the year.
The world title in the team time trial was a long-awaited victory. Janssen realised that it was not his bet which made the riders want this victory so badly. The team time trial world title had been an important goal for the team for years and "this was just a nice, extra incentive".
With 41 UCI victories in 2016, Boels-Dolmans finished far ahead of Wiggle-High5 and Rabo-Liv in the team ranking, which meant the third condition was met for the ski trip.
“Nearly all of the girls are actually skiing, from early morning to late afternoon,” said Janssen. “In addition, we have lunch and diner with one another. And of course there is also some après-ski! A great way to start the season.”
Janssen is a dedicated sponsor and has been sponsoring the UCI women's team since 2010. First as sole title sponsor for Dolmans Landscaping Team, since 2012 in cooperation with Boels Rental.
"I attend quite a few races each year and have regular consultations with [team manager] Danny Stam and people from the staff of the team,” he said. “This certainly adds an extra dimension for the athletes and the team. We have been working closely together to achieve our goals; we bring the best from all of us together this way."
Asking Janssen whether he has put a new challenge for the team, he replied: “Of course we have new goals - but we keep them to ourselves for now. The girls have been asking for a new bet already. I think they liked the ski trip!”
From Austria, the team will travel to Calpe in Spain for the first team camp on bike, where new riders Jip van den Bos, Amy Pieters and Anna van der Breggen will have their first official meeting with the entire team.