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Jumbo-Visma clean up at the Vuelta – Are they the most dominant cycling team of all time?

After nabbing all three Grand Tours courtesy of Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primož Roglič, how does the Dutch squad’s 2023 season compare to the sport’s other crushingly oppressive team displays down the years?

On the finishing straight of the penultimate stage of this year’s Vuelta a España in Guadarrama, over ten minutes after Wout Poels outgunned Remco Evenepoel for the stage win, Juan Ayuso, Enric Mas, and Mikel Landa led home the remnants of the GC group, the final few aimless shots of a forlorn battle for fourth overall and the coveted title of best home rider.

A hundred or so metres behind, the triumphant Jumbo-Visma trio of Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primož Roglič appear – laughing, chatting, and soaking in another job expertly executed – before finally linking arms as they crossed the line together for a moment and an image heavily laden with symbolism.

For starters, the teammates’ shared celebration brought a definitive, and rather fitting, end to Jumbo-Visma’s amateur theatre group rendition of La Vie Claire’s 1986 Tour de France, during which internal tensions within the squad, and the individual, ruthless ambitions of seasoned grand tour winners Vingegaard and Roglič, threatened to scupper loyal domestique Kuss’s moment in the bright Spanish sun.

A few PR wobbles, questionable tactics, and days of social media hysteria aside, the ever-amiable American eventually emerged unscathed through the Angliru fog of civil war, the first man from his country to win one of cycling’s big three-weekers since the rather less universally appreciated Chris Horner back in 2013. Meanwhile, it was up to Jonas and Primož to flank and point in the direction of their domestique-turned-leader, and appear at least happy while doing so.

The image of the three Jumbo-Visma riders crossing the line arm in arm, calmly divorced from the actual bike race enfolding in front of them, also symbolised the Dutch team’s utter dominance on the roads of Spain, and throughout this year’s grand tour season.

Because, to put it bluntly, Jumbo-Visma decimated the Vuelta. Kuss (riding his third GT of the season, remember), Vingegaard, and Roglič all finished within 1.08 of each other on the final podium. Their nearest rival, Juan Ayuso, was 3.18 down on the red jersey, and over two minutes off Roglič’s third spot. They also picked up five stage wins (two each for Vingegaard and Roglič, one for Kuss) on the way.

Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primož Roglič celebrate after stage 21, 2023 Vuelta a España (Rafa Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

(Rafa Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

Not only did Jumbo-Visma sweep aside all before them at the Vuelta, the Dutch squad also produced one of the most dominant grand tour performances in the history of cycling.

By filling all three top spots on GC, they are the first team since Kas at the 1966 Vuelta to manage a clean sweep of the podium at a grand tour, while also becoming only the third squad since then to achieve such a feat at any major stage race on the calendar.

With Kuss adding to Roglič’s last-gasp Giro d’Italia win and Vingegaard’s second consecutive Tour de France triumph, Jumbo-Visma have also become the first men’s team in history to win all three grand tours in a single season, a momentous achievement marked by the special black jerseys with pink, yellow, and red stripes worn by the riders on the streets of Madrid.

This year’s Vuelta podium, meanwhile, marked only the second time in cycling history that all three of that season’s grand tour winners stood together on the podium of one of the races, after Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon, and Pedro Delgado occupied the three top spots at the 1989 Tour de France (and of course they weren’t all part of the same team).

Jumbo-Visma celebrate after stage 21, 2023 Vuelta a España (Rafa Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

(Rafa Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

So, it’s clear that Jumbo-Visma have made history at this year’s Vuelta a España. But where does Kuss and co.’s latest achievement rank in the annals of men’s professional cycling? We decided to dust off the history books to see where the boys in yellow and black stack up…

Easy as 1-2-3: Famous podium sweeps

As noted above, Jumbo-Visma’s gatekeeping attitude towards the Vuelta podium marks the first time since way back in 1966 that a team has achieved such a feat at one of cycling’s three big tours. At the 1966 Vuelta (a few weeks before Bobby Moore got hold the Jules Rimet trophy), Kas-Kaskol – the future home of Irish legend Sean Kelly – scored a 1-2-3, courtesy of Francisco Gabica, Eusebio Vélez, and Carlos Echeverría. The Spanish team also filled six of the seven top placings on GC, which kind of puts Jumbo-Visma’s own dominance into some perspective…

Away from the grand tours, a podium clean sweep has been achieved by two teams over the past three decades or so: the Ineos Grenadiers at the 2021 Volta a Catalunya (courtesy of Adam Yates, Richie Porte, and Geraint Thomas) and Toshiba at the 1991 Paris-Nice, thanks to Tony Rominger, Laurent Jalabert, and Martial Gayant.

Of course, the final GC podium wasn’t the only 1-2-3 managed by Jumbo-Visma at the Vuelta – the Dutch team also dominated the top three placings on arguably the race’s two hardest and most iconic days, with Jonas Vingegaard leading the way on the Col du Tourmalet, and Roglič taking the plaudits on the Alto de l’Angliru.

You don’t have to look too far to find the last time a team scored a 1-2-3 on a stage: it was Jumbo-Visma, of course, who rode away from the bunch on stage one of the 2022 edition of Paris-Nice to secure a devastatingly efficient win for another domestique-turned-winner Christophe Laporte, with Roglič and Wout van Aert following close behind.

Christophe Laporte wins stage one, 2022 Paris-Nice (Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos)

Oh look, another Jumbo-Visma 1-2-3 (Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos)

1-2-3s for teams on mountain stages of grand tours are an altogether rarer beast, however, with Miko-Mercier the last to manage the feat before Jumbo-Visma at the 1980 Tour de France, as Raymond Martin beat teammates Sven-Åke Nilsson and Christian Seznec by three minutes on a gruelling day in the Pyrenees.

Of course, not all podium clean sweeps are remembered as fondly by cycling fans. At the 1994 Flèche Wallonne, the orange juice-fuelled Gewiss-Ballan trio of Moreno Argentin, Giorgio Furlan, and Evgeni Berzin – riders whose medical programme was, ahem, overseen by a certain Dr Michele Ferrari – simply rode away from the rest with 72km to go.

A similarly eyebrow raising performance occurred two years later at Paris-Roubaix, when Mapei’s Franco Ballerini, Gianluca Bortolami, Andrea Tafi, and Johan Museeuw broke clear together with 86km to go (though a puncture for Ballerini would rob the team of a 1-2-3-4 in the Roubaix velodrome).

Unlike the apparent anarchy on the Jumbo team bus, Mapei’s PR guidelines were extremely rigid, and Museeuw was instructed, reportedly from the company’s Milan HQ, to cross the line first. That kind of decision making would have saved Jumbo’s PR guy a whole lot of bother over the last few weeks.

Mapei 1-2-3, 1996 Paris-Roubaix

Just a normal day in Roubaix, nothing to see here… 

And before we move on, a special mention must go to the original dysfunctional yet dominant team, La Vie Claire, who provided the blueprint for internal team rivalries centred on inexperienced, under pressure American leaders, while still managing to take a 1-2 at the Tour de France courtesy of a shell-shocked Greg LeMond and the outgoing patron Bernard Hinault at the legendary 1986 edition of the Grande Boucle.

As if to underline La Vie Claire’s superiority in the mid-1980s, LeMond’s teammate and compatriot Andy Hampsten also took fourth that year, albeit a whopping 18 minutes down. On Alpe d’Huez, Hinault and LeMond even pioneered the redemptive, conciliatory arm in arm celebration thing, too, 37 years before Kuss, Roglič, and a rather wobbly Vingegaard tried it out in Guadarrama.

Sharing the love: Teammates on Grand Tour podiums

While Jumbo-Visma’s 1-2-3 is unprecedented in the modern era of grand tours, teams placing two riders on a grand tour podium is a relatively common occurrence.

Since 2010 it’s happened nine times, with Ineos/Sky responsible for four of those occasions, during their grand tour winning heyday.

In fact, in the period since their establishment 13 years ago, the British squad – with the exception of Liquigas at the scintillating 2010 edition of the Giro, won by the redemption-seeking Ivan Basso with his protégé Vincenzo Nibali in third – were the only team, until Jumbo-Visma, to put multiple riders on the podium of a three-week race while also winning it, a feat they managed to pull off three times (four if you count Froome’s postdated 2011 Vuelta win).

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome on final stage of 2018 Tour de France, picture credit ASO, Alex Broadway KASK cycling helmets

(ASO/Alex Broadway)

Although, with the leadership problems and internal tensions that emerged during this year’s Vuelta, it will be interesting to see if Jumbo-Visma continue to pursue a policy of trying plant as many riders as possible on the podium in the future…

Teams with multiple riders on a single grand tour podium, 2010-2023

2023 Vuelta a España: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd – Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)

2020 Giro d’Italia: 2nd and 3rd – Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)

2019 Tour de France: 1st and 2nd – Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas (Ineos)

2018 Tour de France: 1st and 3rd – Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome (Sky)

2015 Giro d’Italia: 2nd and 3rd – Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa (Astana)

2015 Tour de France: 2nd and 3rd – Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

2012 Tour de France: 1st and 2nd – Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome (Sky)

2011 Tour de France: 2nd and 3rd – Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek)

2011 Vuelta a España: 2nd and 3rd (upgraded to 1st and 2nd following Juan José Cobo’s doping ban) – Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins (Sky)

2010 Giro d’Italia: 1st and 3rd – Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)

Two’s plenty, three’s unprecedented

Sepp Kuss Angliru 2023 Vuelta (Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023/ASO)

(Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

Jumbo-Visma’s staggering, unflinching supremacy at the Vuelta is one thing, but their ability to maintain it over the course of the entire season – and win all three Grand Tours, with three different riders, in the process – is quite another.

As we noted above, no other team in the history of cycling has won all three Grand Tours in a single season.

In fact, since 1995 – when the Vuelta was moved from its former pre-Giro spring slot to its now customary August and September position on the calendar – teams have won two (or more) Grand Tours in a season on only eight occasions (and two of those have even been struck off the official record, thanks to a certain Texan).

And on three of those occasions, a single era-defining rider was responsible for his team’s double (Froome in 2017, Alberto Contador in 2008, and Marco Pantani in 1998).

Perhaps most notably, before Jumbo-Visma bucked the trend this year, teams who managed to win two grand tours in a season would almost certainly struggle to achieve any kind of GC success in the third.

Of the seven post-1995 double winning teams, only Liquigas in 2010 (courtesy of Roman Kreuziger’s ninth at the Tour) and Discovery Channel in 2005 (thanks to Tom Danielson’s eighth at the Vuelta) even managed to squeak a rider into the top ten overall in the races they didn’t win.

And in 2008, 2003, and 1998, Astana, US Postal, and Mercatone Uno didn’t – or couldn’t, in the case of Astana – even take part in the grand tour they didn’t win that year.

Teams who have won multiple grand tours in a season since 1995:

2023, Jumbo-Visma: Primož Roglič (Giro d’Italia), Jonas Vingegaard (Tour de France), and Sepp Kuss (Vuelta a España)

2018, Team Sky: Chris Froome (Giro d’Italia) and Geraint Thomas (Tour de France) – Best rider at Vuelta: David de la Cruz (15th) 

2017, Team Sky: Chris Froome (Tour de France and Vuelta a España) – Best rider at Giro: Mikel Landa (17th)

2010, Liquigas: Ivan Basso (Giro d’Italia) and Vincenzo Nibali (Vuelta a España) – Best rider at Tour: Roman Kreuziger (9th)

2008, Astana: Alberto Contador (Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España) – Best rider at Tour: DNS

2005, Discovery Channel: Paulo Savoldelli (Giro d’Italia) and Lance Armstrong* (Tour de France) – Best rider at Vuelta: Tom Danielson (8th) 

2003, US Postal: Lance Armstrong* (Tour de France) and Roberto Heras (Vuelta a España) – Best rider at Giro: DNS

1998, Mercatone Uno: Marco Pantani (Giro d’Italia and Tour de France) – Best rider at Vuelta: DNS

2023 Jumbo-Visma La Vuelta (Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023/ASO)

(Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

While Jumbo-Visma’s Grand Tour treble sets a new, insurmountable bar when it comes to stage racing dominance, it’s the manner in which they made history that will strike fear into the hearts of their opponents in 2024.

Roglič’s Giro triumph may have come down to some last-gasp heroics, but at the following two three-week races, Jumbo-Visma were simply a cut above the rest. In France, Vingegaard beat Tadej Pogačar – a rider, wrist injury aside, widely regarded as the most naturally talented racer of his generation – by almost seven and a half minutes.

At the Vuelta, once Kuss was firmly ensconced in the red jersey, the first Grand Tour 1-2-3 for 57 years never really appeared in doubt, such was the overwhelming superiority on display every time the road reared upwards (only the order of that 1-2-3, and the intriguing internal dynamics and tactics underpinning that order, remained up in the air for the majority of the race, preventing the Vuelta from descending into a mere procession).

And their stage racing pre-eminence wasn’t just confined to the Grand Tours this year, either. At the major week-long events, Vingegaard won the Tour of the Basque Country and the Critérium du Dauphiné, while Roglič secured his first Tirreno-Adriatico in March.

They may have fallen ever so slightly short at their other big goal, the spring classics, but Jumbo-Visma have certainly perfected the art of stage racing, while breaking record after record and making it look all so easy in the process.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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12 comments

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Secret_squirrel | 9 months ago
0 likes

No.

Its clear Sky were more dominant in their era.

Its also clear that some other teams had a shocker at this Veulta, that made Jumbo look better. (Ineos/Sky again).

But for Evenepoels blow-up a non-GC team would have been pushing them hard at the end.

Im really glad Kuss won and the team is awesome, but take that against the background of some teams who are really in the doldrums.

Avatar
Brauchsel | 9 months ago
1 like

They're undoubtedly dominant, but it wouldn't look quite so clear-cut had some marginal situations not gone their way. 

If Thomas hadn't fannied about with helmet changes etc at the Giro TT, Roglic might well not have won.

A non-injured Pogacar who hadn't done a load of Classics earlier in the season might well have challenged more closely for the Tour. 

If Evenepoel hadn't switched off for the Tourmalet day, he'd have stayed in contention and Kuss might well have been put back on domestique duties. 

All "if my auntie had bollocks" stuff of course, but they were all smallish points outside TJV's control that could conceivably have left them with no Grand Tours had the coin landed the other way. 

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers replied to Brauchsel | 9 months ago
0 likes

Brauchsel wrote:

They're undoubtedly dominant, but it wouldn't look quite so clear-cut had some marginal situations not gone their way. 

If Thomas hadn't fannied about with helmet changes etc at the Giro TT, Roglic might well not have won.

A non-injured Pogacar who hadn't done a load of Classics earlier in the season might well have challenged more closely for the Tour. 

If Evenepoel hadn't switched off for the Tourmalet day, he'd have stayed in contention and Kuss might well have been put back on domestique duties. 

All "if my auntie had bollocks" stuff of course, but they were all smallish points outside TJV's control that could conceivably have left them with no Grand Tours had the coin landed the other way. 

Lot's of if's - agreed on that.

But then IF Roglic hadn't dropped his chain on that final TT, would he have beaten GT by a bigger margin? I don't think the helmet change was the reason for the loss - maybe if GT was a couple of years younger he might have won. 

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
1 like

When they're done for doping it will all be taken off the records anyway. Along with Evenepoels. 

Avatar
essexian replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
3 likes

A Losers wrote:

When they're done for doping it will all be taken off the records anyway. Along with Evenepoels. 

Oh... a dope talking about doping.  I suppose that makes sense. 

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers replied to essexian | 9 months ago
0 likes

essexian wrote:

A Losers wrote:

When they're done for doping it will all be taken off the records anyway. Along with Evenepoels. 

Oh... a dope talking about doping.  I suppose that makes sense. 

Hello again, haven't heard much from you in a few days

Still as clever with words as you were before  4

Avatar
essexian replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
2 likes

A Losers wrote:

Wrote what could be seen as libel against a cycling team.... Road CC lawyers should take note

Yep...too busy actually being involved in cycling and earning a living. When you grow up, you may have to try to do so....although are there many jobs going for second rate trolls?

 

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers replied to essexian | 9 months ago
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essexian wrote:

A Losers wrote:

Wrote what could be seen as libel against a cycling team.... Road CC lawyers should take note

Yep...too busy actually being involved in cycling and earning a living. When you grow up, you may have to try to do so....although are there many jobs going for second rate trolls?

Haha - still good at changing text too. If that's libel then there's plenty you have said about people here : )

Were you bullied at school?

Avatar
essexian replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
1 like

If you would like to point out any libel I am guilty of, then I would only be too happy to highlight why its not such. 

Do you actually understand what libel means? I seriously doubt it.

It is my honestly held belief, based upon the evidence I have seen from your own comments, that you are a secon rate troll. 

Anyway, why do I argue with morons (again, a honestly held belief) as they bring you down to their level and then beat you with experience. 

 

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers replied to essexian | 9 months ago
0 likes

Why don't you just man up?

At least when others try to be funny they don't continue with jibes and pointless comments till they have exhausted the English language of insults. 

If must always have the last word, then you can reply to this as I'm not going to bother replying again to you. 

Avatar
essexian replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
2 likes

Man up? What are you? Some teenager or something?

And at last, you won't bother replying to me. Brilliant. Now, if we could just get you to leave the site and stop posting rubbish, my job here will be done.

Troll off, there's a good boy/girl.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
3 likes

Quote:

As we noted above, no other team in the history of cycling has won all three Grand Tours in a single season.

It is worth noting though that fourteen teams have won two GTs in a season and then not bothered to enter the third (nearly always the Vuelta when it was held in April up to 1995 and was regarded as nowhere near as important as the Tour or Giro); in many cases those teams were so dominant that they could have undoubtedly taken a clean sweep if they had been so minded.

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