Danny Stam: ‘Team SD Worx is a strong, all-round contender’
From a small team of cyclists on the sidelines to the top team in the world – since Danny Stam took over as sports manager of the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, he has seen the riders in his peloton gain in strength year by year. Now that SD Worx has taken over as the team’s new sponsor, a new challenge has also started for Stam. “I’m delighted that the team has become more international.”
What is the main difference between the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team and Team SD Worx?
Stam: “There aren’t that many differences, actually. The organisation and core of the team have remained the same but the team has become more international. Our former sponsors, Boels Rental and Dolmans Landscaping Group, had a certain preference for Dutch cyclists. But we’ve always had a fairly international team and English has always been the working language in the team. SD Worx asked us put together an international team. As a result, we now have no fewer than nine different nationalities in the team. I’m a firm believer in this approach as I think it creates a good balance.”
How would you describe the 2021 team?
Stam: “It’s a team of many top riders, which means we should have the capacity to achieve a large share of victories. Take Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters and Jolien D’Hoore, for example. We have also identified a number of up-and-coming talents, which means we’re building a top team for 2023 and 2024 as well. The great advantage of a sponsor like SD Worx is that we are assured of their support for the next four years. Our team is unparalleled in terms of strength, and the second line has improved significantly. Take, for instance, riders like Ashleigh Moolman, Demi Vollering and Elena Cecchini. It means we could have a broader representation in the finals and have more assets to deploy as part of our tactical approach."
What are the main goals for 2021?
Stam: “We have a lot of goals. Starting this season, we will be working with two teams. One will focus mainly on hill climbs and the other will mainly ride in the Flemish classics. We must be able to compete well in both areas. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the traditional start of the cycling season, is an important event for us, as is the Tour of Flanders followed by the Ardennes Classical trio of the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Because our main sponsor is Belgian, we are highly motivated to do well in the Belgian classics. What’s so exciting about this team is that we could, in principle, have a place on the winners’ podium every week. And individually, the Olympic Games are, of course, very important for a number of our riders. However, they will not be competing in our team there but in country teams, but we will of course be working towards that too.”
You didn't mention the Giro Rosa, the most important stage race for women. Anna van der Breggen won this race last year. Was that intentional?
Stam: “It’s almost impossible to combine the Giro Rosa and the Olympic Games. Giro Rosa takes place about two weeks before the Olympic race. You can’t expect a top performance in the Italian giro as well as take the stage in Tokyo. Those aspiring to win a medal at the Olympics will mainly ride the Giro Rosa as preparation.”
2021 will (again) be dominated by the Olympic Games in Tokyo. How many team riders do you expect to see in action at the Summer Games?
Stam: “Quite a few of them. I expect to see Anna van der Breggen, Karol-Ann Canuel, Christine Majerus, Ashleigh Moolman and maybe Chantal Blaak, Anna Shakley and Niamh Black-Fisher take part in the road races. Amy Pieters and Jolien D’Hoore will compete in the track programme. We could see nine riders from our team in action during the Olympic Games – this would be a first for us.”
In September, the World Cycling Championships will also take place in Belgium.
Stam: “This will, of course, be an exciting race for us and it will probably pass by several offices of our main sponsor; SD Worx. I haven’t studied the course in great detail yet, but I know it will be a tough race for which riders like Anna van der Breggen, Amy Pieters, Chantal Blaak, Demi Vollering, Amy Pieters, Jolien D’Hoore and Ashleigh Moolman will be well-prepared. It’s quite a tricky final, but I think it’s great this competition will take place on home territory.”