The LottoNL-Jumbo team has confirmed its roster for the 2017 season, adding Lars Boom, Stef Clement, Juan Jose Lobato, Daan Olivier and Jurgen Van den Broeck following the loss of Sep Vanmarcke to Cannondale-Drapac and Wilco Kelderman to Lotto Soudal. Alexey Vermeulen is the only US rider on the 28 roster.
Long standing domestique Bram Tankink expected to become the team's final and 29th rider if contract negotiations are successful.
LottoNL-Jumbo won 19 races in 2016, with 11 of them coming thanks to sprinter Dylan Groenewegen. The team went close to victory in the Giro d'Italia with Steven Kruijswijk, but he crashed in the snow on the Col dell'Agnello while wearing the pink jersey and eventually finished fourth overall. His Vuelta a Espana hopes were dashed after he hit a pole in the road on stage 5 and fractured his collarbone.
The team finished 15th in the UCI WorldTour rankings, narrowly avoiding problems concerning points and so secured a place in the 2017 WorldTour as long as their application is in order. LottoNL-Jumbo will again use Bianchi bikes in 2017 and wear Shimano S-PHYRE range of clothing and shoes as part of a new sponsorship from the Japanese brand.
Boom will be expected to fill the gap left by Vanmarcke in the Classics squad. The 30-year-old Dutchman has returned to his home team after two sub par seasons.
"There are still a few things missing on my palmares, especially a big classic win. I also want to working with the team again carefully picking my races," Boom said in a statement from the team. "It is nice to see how the team has so much energy for the development of materials and training."
Jurgen Van den Broeck will also be hoping to get his career back on track after two years at Katusha, while Spain's Juan José Lobato will boost the team's sprinting power.
The arrival of young riders such as Gijs Van Hoecke, Amund Grondahl Jansen, Floris De Tier, Daan Olivier and Antwan Tolhoek will help reinvigorate the team and should be able to learn from Boom, Vuelta a Espana stage winner Robert Gesink and Kiwi George Bennett.
Vermeulen hoping to step up in 2017
The team will gather for a training camp in December, with Vermeulen preferring to stay in Europe to train rather than return to his home in the cold of Michigan.
"This month, I'll do a lot of cross training and practice many different sports, playing hockey, cross-country skiing and mountain biking for example. At the end of November, I’ll return to Europe for three weeks to be part of the training camp. I fly back to the States for Christmas. Then I’ll return to Europe again for the season. I think it is better for the team morale and I can meet everybody. It’s good to be part of the training and it would be nice to be at the team presentation," Vermeulen said.
21-year-old Vermeulen used 2016 as a year of learning to race at WorldTour level and is hoping to step up again in 2017.
"My main goal was to learn. Sometimes it's hard when you don't ride for results but I had a good ride in the Tour of California and in the Dauphiné. And I was selected for the team time trial in the World Championships in Doha. In 2017 I want to do well in the nationals and in California, and be helpful in the mountain races. I hope to ride the Vuelta, which would be my first Grand Tour," he explained.
"When I started racing with BMC and the national team, I was pretty good uphill. In the upcoming season, I'll focus on it more. I hope to be a GC rider someday. Look at George Bennett, I want to do what he did. Start with small tours like California and the Dauphiné, but in the end, I want to be a Grand Tour contender."