For the last six years, Danny Stam has called Jolien d’Hoore in a bid to woo her to Boels-Dolmans. And each year, she said no. Too young, too inexperienced, too early in her career, D’hoore felt she still had so much to prove.
But ahead of the 2019 season, Stam finally got the answer he was looking for. The multiple Belgian champion agreed, leaving Mitchelton Scott.
She said: “I really considered it and told him yes, why not? It’s the best team in the world and I can still learn from them now. Coming to the end of my career, this was an opportunity I could not miss.”
D’hoore has signed a two-year contract with the world-beating Dutch outfit, to incorporate the Toyko 2020 Olympic Games and first met her teammates, including former world champion and rival Amalie Dideriksen, former world champion and roommate Chantal Blaak and current Olympic and world champion Olympic Anna van der Breggen, on team camp in December.
It was there on camp goals for next year were discussed. The team, ranked number one in the world for the past two seasons, is bursting at the seams with race-winners. Is there a danger D’hoore may not get her chance?
Not if the Dutch have anything to say about it.
“That’s the best thing about it,” D’hoore laughed.“They are Dutch people so they are really direct and clear about it, and we can agree on our goals and the races we want to win. We all have our own races and our own goals, and it shouldn’t be a problem.
“It will only make us stronger. Look at Quickstep, they have such a strong team and won so many races. The team are always so strong in the Spring Classics, and really decide the tactics in the races.
“In the past, I have always been waiting for them to make the moves. Now I am one of them and looking forward to being part of the game. I want to win one or two big races in the spring and ultimately take back the Belgian national jersey. It will be great to have it back this season.”
D’hoore, who won stages at the OVO Energy Women’sTour and the Giro Rosa last season, as well as Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne, is currently in New Zealand in the middle of the track season.
Madison success in Tokyo remains the goal for the 28-year-old, and she is keen to learn from former “trackie” Stam.
D’hoore sang his praises: “He has been a big influence in me joining the team, as a trackie in the past with so much experience. He has proven to be really good at making up a plan, a programme on the road in combination with the track. I really like his experience.”
The Olympic bronze Omnium medallist will race the next two World Cups in Cambridge and Hong Kong before the World Championships in Poland, with teammate Lotte Kopecky. Two days afterwards, she will be back racing on the road with her Boels-Dolmans team mates at La Samyn, where they will face perhaps the greatest challenge to their dominance yet with the introduction of super-teams Trek Women and CCC.
“Every year women’s cycling becomes bigger and better and it is harder to win races,” the two-time winner of Madrid Challenge said. “Last year was great for the team but I would have liked to win more races. You think you’ve had a good winter, and good training but come races, everyone has got stronger. You have to keep improving. And this year, I am curious to see how the new Trek team will race together. And CCC, with Marianne Vos. She is a rider who is always there, in the Spring, in the Giro, and now she has a strong team around her.
“The strongest riders are divided amongst a number of teams and that is only beneficial to women’s cycling.”