Interview Erwin Janssen

4 January 2021

Erwin Janssen: “Ongoing professional development with SD Worx” 

From a team of enthusiastic talents to the top team in the world. That is a fair characterisation of the eleven-year history of the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team. In 2010, the founder and team manager, Erwin Janssen, could never have foreseen that his team would set the tone in women’s cycling. With SD Worx as the new main sponsor, Janssen’s dreams have been given new life. “Ongoing professional development and consolidating our top position in the world are our main objectives”, he emphasises. 

Janssen was extremely proud to be able to secure the future of the cycling team in mid-February 2020. He has, in SD Worx, found a new main sponsor which is keen to focus on women’s cycling and also strives for the highest level. The four-year contract was a reward for all the hard work he and the team have put in over the years.

How will Team SD Worx compare with Boels-Dolmans? 

Janssen: “The BASIC remains unchanged. Why change things too much when it’s clear that our vision and way of working are highly successful? The 2020 ‘Corona’ season was one of our best years with Anna van der Breggen’s double world title in the road competition and on the time trial. We also did extremely well in the Giro Rosa, the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem, among others. One of our greatest strengths is our team spirit. We will continue to focus on this, even as the team becomes more international and we continue to develop professionally.” 

How is cooperation with SD Worx? 

Janssen: “We already reached an agreement with SD Worx in February, and that has been a great advantage. Over the past year, we have had a lot of contact in various areas to get the new team in good shape. It’s extremely motivating for us to see how enthusiastic SD Worx is about this partnership. Their ambitions are perfectly in line with ours. We both aim for the highest level.” 

What will the team’s professional development look like?  

Janssen: “I think we have done a lot for women’s cycling in the past eleven years. We were one of the first not only to remunerate top riders well, but also to ensure that everyone in the team received a decent salary. And we have always set the bar high in terms of coaching, training camps and nutrition, for example. This is a continuous process in which you must always make progress and advance professionally. Sports Manager Danny Stam has made extra investments to get the very best for the girls in all areas. We also aim to raise our international profile as a women’s team.” 

In the top of women’s cycling, almost all teams are linked to a World Tour men’s team, whereas you distinguish yourself by focusing all your efforts on the women’s team.

Janssen: “I think this is one of our strengths. Everyone in our organisation is fully geared to getting the women’s team to perform at their absolute best. I see in some other teams that the men’s peloton is the flagship and that they are given much more attention than the women’s team.” 

What will the highlights for Team SD Worx be in 2021? 

Janssen: “First of all, we have an international team with no fewer than nine nationalities. We have been able to retain our best riders of the past few years. What’s more, we now have around five of the greatest talents in the peloton. We will be able to give these young girls the kind of coaching and opportunities to become top international riders in the coming years. I also think we’ve been stronger than ever as an all-round team. You should start to see that in the final stages of the big races. We hope to be even better represented in the first group so that we can put our mark on a number of important international competitions.” 

Do you see yourselves playing a pioneering role again? 

Janssen: “With champions like Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Jolien D’Hoore and Amy Pieters, we are confident we can win important competitions. I think it’s also important for the future of the team that Anna and Chantal can be assured of a role as coach/team leader after their sporting career. Anna will make the switch after 2021, while Chantal will make the move from race bike to team car in the spring of 2022. This means we’re one of the first teams to have our riders join the technical staff after their racing careers. I’ve noticed in recent years that Anna and Chantal have already taken it upon themselves to look after the young girls in the team. They are already gradually growing into this coaching role.”

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