The off-season has barely begun (and officially hasn’t yet) but the cycling world has been kept plenty busy already. Talk of mergers led throughout the Summer but took a turn a couple of weeks ago when Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step were linked and again when it was revealed that Primož Roglič was set to leave Team Jumbo-Visma for a probable transfer to Bora-Hansgrohe. Though official confirmation is pending, the cycling world is already dissecting the ramifications. However, for Grischa Niermann, sporting director of Jumbo-Visma, the Slovenian’s decision is far from shocking.
Roglič, 33, had his sights set on a Tour de France victory, an aspiration Jumbo-Visma couldn’t guarantee for 2024, especially with Jonas Vingegaard, a two-time Tour champion, in their ranks. Niermann expressed gratitude for Roglič’s numerous wins with the team, acknowledging that his departure, while regrettable, is in line with his ambitions. “We owe a lot to Primož for our team’s success. It’s a shame he’s leaving, but it’s a good decision for him. His dream is to win the Tour de France, and we wish him all the luck,” Niermann said in an interview with In de Leiderstrui.
While Roglič’s next employer remains unofficial for now, the consensus indicates a move to German team Bora-Hansgrohe is imminent. The Slovenian will make his last appearance in Jumbo-Visma colours this Saturday at Il Lombardia, marking the end of the European part of the cycling season.
“His departure is a loss, but we have many excellent young cyclists to fill that gap,” Niermann further commented. He also touched on Jumbo-Visma’s looming merger with Soudal Quick-Step, saying, “A lot is happening right now, and it would be great if more things were clear. But I am convinced we’ll have a strong team with good sponsors next year.”
According to insiders, Niermann himself could be a catalyst for Roglič’s decision to leave, having allegedly favoured Vingegaard in this year’s Vuelta a España, which ultimately was won by their teammate Sepp Kuss. General Manager Richard Plugge reportedly learned of Roglič’s intent to leave only just before the last stage of the Vuelta, expressing his frustration at Niermann and another sporting director, Merijn Zeeman.
The ticking of the biological clock is also a factor, as emphasised by former German cyclist Jens Voigt. Voigt concurred with Roglič’s move, stating, “At Jumbo, the younger, and currently probably stronger, Jonas Vingegaard will always be the captain. At Bora, if reports are accurate, he will have the guaranteed spot of captain and can aim for his lifetime dream of winning the Tour de France.”
The transfer, if confirmed, will not just be a monumental shift for Roglič but a windfall for Bora-Hansgrohe. “He’s a cyclist who guarantees podium finishes, regardless of the race. They currently don’t have such a competitor in the team,” Voigt added. As the carousel of team transfers turns, the unfolding events will be keenly watched. They hold the promise of reshaping not just team dynamics but the very architecture of elite cycling competitions in 2024.