This Sunday, three Van den Bergs will be at the start of the Dutch National Cycling Championships in Sittard. Lars (Groupama-FDJ) narrowly missed the stage victory in the final stage of the Route d'Occitanie last Sunday, while Marijn (EF Education-EasyPost) was able to pull off that feat in the opening stage. The latter is racing with the American team, alongside Julius, who made his comeback in the Tour de Suisse after a busy spring!
Van den Berg sat down for a talk with IDLProCycling.com in the Alpine country, where he, as a peer of Gino Mäder's, did not start the penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse. Being a friend of Fabio Jakobsen's - with whom he recently co-authored a beautiful book - Van den Berg knows what it's like to experience such a serious crash, as he was also present in that fateful Tour of Poland.
Originally, Van den Berg was supposed to participate in the Giro d'Italia this year, but joyful news brought about a change. "A baby was born," he shared with us, smiling. "The original plan was indeed to ride the Giro, but on April 26th, my second daughter was born. The team gave me the space to spend time with her, which was really nice. EF Education-EasyPost is very relaxed when it comes to those kinds of things, so that was great."
However, Van den Berg hasn't been idle. "I spent a week in Luxembourg and was able to train hard and well there. Normally, I won't be going to the Tour, but my goal is to get in the best possible shape through the Dutch National Championships. I'm essentially on the longlist for this year's Vuelta, but we'll see how that develops."
Van den Berg says racing together with buddy Jakobsen "not priority number one"
Van den Berg already feels at home in those three-week Grand Tours. "Last year, I did the Giro and Vuelta, and I was able to perform well in both of them. The team also noticed that. I recover well in such a big race and can provide good assistance and positioning, so in that regard, I can be of great value to the team."
The time trialist is currently at the end of his contract with the American team, and there have been whispers here and there about a reunion with his friends Cees Bol (Astana) or Jakobsen (final destination still unknown) being in the works. "It would be nice if there is an opportunity to race together, but I don't think that's priority number one," he says about a potential collaboration with Jakobsen. "We both go about our business as much as possible, but if it could happen, it would be super fun. It's not a must, although it would make for great content for a good new book," he adds with a smile, clearly anticipating the direction of our questions.
Finally, we discuss the Netflix series Tour de France: Unchained, which also prominently features EF Education-EasyPost and especially team manager Vaughters. "Jonathan is truly an American, so he can portray that well. We were obviously in a bit of trouble with the points back then, so at a certain point, there was some pressure to perform," he expresses the stress that prevailed within the team in 2022, which was also highlighted in the series. "I don't think this team would have continued as a procontinental team, so there was definitely that pressure as well."
Tom van der Salm (Twitter: @TomvanderSalm)