Lemmen feels right at home at Visma | Lease a Bike: "Similar way of working as in the army" Cycling

Lemmen feels right at home at Visma | Lease a Bike: "Similar way of working as in the army"

Lemmen feels right at home at Visma | Lease a Bike: "Similar way of working as in the army"

The bad luck seems far from over for Visma | Lease a Bike. The Dutch team was already plagued by several cases of injuries (due to nasty falls) in the first quarter of 2024, and the Critérium du Dauphiné brought more of the same. During the horrific crash on day five, killer bees Dylan van Baarle and Steven Kruijswijk hit the asphalt so hard they were taken to the hospital. Adding insult to injury, these were two Tour de France hopefuls...

The story is by now well-known: Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard, two potential frontrunners in La Grande Boucle, had to undergo a substantial recovery process and it remains uncertain whether they will be fit enough in time for the three-week stage race (performance coach Mathieu Heijboer previously elaborated on this in an interview with IDLProCycling.com). Add to that lots of additional uncertainty and you better believe the yellow-black team is having a tough time. With Van Baarle and Kruijswijk out, the team is truly in a dire situation. Time to search for potential replacements. Bart Lemmen, currently in his first WorldTour year, might not have seen it coming, but could now suddenly find himself on the Tour de France longlist (or is it already a shortlist?).

After joining Visma | Lease a Bike through fast track, where is Lemmen's limit?

It might seem like he pulled off quite the stunt, but it's actually not so crazy to consider sending Lemmen to the Tour. Even before all the Dauphiné troubles occurred, this website spoke with the former military man, who is in good form this year. He finished fifth overall in the Santos Tour Down Under in January, and last month he even finished second in the Tour of Norway. "My form is definitely good, I can't deny that. Of course, I would have preferred to win the Tour of Norway. If I had made a few different tactical choices, I could have won. I think I really had the legs to win it. But I didn't, which is always a shame," the 28-year-old Dutchman said.

"But hey, I can't complain, because it's my first pro podium. You always have to be satisfied with that. And when a race like that is over, you quickly realize that was pretty cool," Lemmen continued. "At some point, I just wanted to pull through that second place at all costs. All in all, I rode well. I'm happy with that, especially considering I haven't been back on the bike that long after breaking my collarbone," he said, referring to his fracture and DNF in the opening stage of the Tour of Catalonia.

2022: Continental (VolkerWessels). 2023: ProTour (Human Powered Health). 2024: Visma | Lease a Bike (WorldTour). To say Lemmen's career is progressing rapidly, would be an understatement. However, he emphasized that he does not want to think too much about his potential limit. "Honestly, I have no idea where my limit is. And I'm not really concerned about that. I've obviously been asked that question before, at the beginning of this year and even last year, when it was announced that I was turning pro. You have to look at it this way: I didn't necessarily expect to be competing for the win in Norway. And I didn't necessarily expect to be starting here in the Dauphiné. Nor that I would already have two top ten placements in WorldTour races. But here we are. Everything so far is already a great bonus."

Continue reading below the photo!

bart lemmen
Last year, Lemmen rode for Human Powered Health (ProTour)

Lemmen as potential replacement for the Tour de France?

Lemmen went on to say that he finds it especially important that he enjoys himself at Visma | LaB. "When I look at how the team works and how everything is structured, that really fits me well. It's kind of the same way of working as when I was in the army. And I really liked that approach. That's how I wanted to run my team there. I can definitely say that the culture within Visma | Lease a Bike suits me well. And that's what I find most important. As for results, I'll see where we land," he stated.

And of course, the misfortune surrounding Van Aert and Vingegaard also came up in the interview with Lemmen. "I do get some of it, of course. I certainly hope from the bottom of my heart that Wout and Jonas are ready for the Tour. That would be the best for the team. But there's nothing I can do about that. I just have to make sure I'm always at my best. So it's not like I'm preoccupied with that every day, definitely not," he stated realistically.

When we asked our follow-up question – ''which races are you riding after the Dauphiné?' – Lemmen answered: "After this Dauphiné, I have the Dutch national championships. Both the road race and the time trial. Beyond that, not much is known about my program. I can't say much more about that." With what we know now, that might (just) result in a Tour participation, especially since he is certainly in good form.

Van Baarle enjoyed his year in his national jersey

IDLProCycling.com also had a brief conversation with the unfortunate Van Baarle during the Dauphiné, about 24 hours before his terrible crash, shortly after he crossed the finish line in the individual time trial. "I haven't really had much contact with Wout, nor with the other guys in Tignes," the Dutchman said. "We're have a group chat with the guys in the high-altitude training camp, so I know who gets on the bike when. That's interesting to know. What it's like over there, that I don't know. I haven't had much contact with them otherwise."

Normally, Van Baarle would have joined the other Dauphiné men in Tignes after the French race. He was normally going to skip the Dutch national championship due to his busy schedule (Tour de France, Olympic Games, Vuelta a España) and hence the Dauphiné was his last race in red, white and blue. "It's been a very nice year getting to wear this jersey. The fact that you get to wear it at all is already very special. I'm happy about that. I would have liked to defend it, but with my busy schedule, it would be too difficult. That's why we decided to skip the Dutch national championship and focus fully on the other goals." Unfortunately, as it turned out a day later, it wasn't meant to be for Van Baarle. Get well soon, Dylan!

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