Jumping from the wheels and crossing the line first with their arms raised aloft; winning a professional bike race is something magical and only assigned to the world’s best. Once upon a time, these winners started as talents, as talents at their local cycling club, before being recruited by a professional team. Since its founding in 2008, Team dsm-firmenich has made significant investments in talent recruitment and development, but how did we become successful in talent recruitment? By popular demand, we looked for more inside information about how this all works with the experts behind the scenes.
The team have always had the goal of finding out the best talent and elevating them to the top of the global rankings. Nils Eekhoff, Oscar Onley, and Max Poole are riders who joined the team’s Development program, but Team dsm-firmenich does not just look for talented juniors. Marcel Kittel, Tom Dumoulin, John Degenkolb, and Jai Hindley are riders who were already racing in the pro ranks before joining the team, where they upped their game and made themselves known to the world while wearing the team’s jersey. In 2023 Matt Dinham is one of the team’s latest talents, joining from Continental side Team Bridgelane and showing himself in the Tour de France and delivering a massive performance in Glasgow by finishing 7th the World Championship.
It can be helpful to briefly explain what is meant by talent recruitment before delving deeper into talent scouting. Hans Timmermans, Scouting Coordinator of Team dsm-firmenich, says, “The process is actually quite comprehensive. There are five main aspects, including riders’ physical and mental maturity, technical and tactical racing skills, and finally the degree to which their personality matches with the top-level sport mentality of Team dsm-firmenich. In the end, it’s a puzzle we try to solve with as much precision as we can.
Returning to the recruitment strategy, does the team have a certain rider profile in mind? “Since we are looking for the future winners in cycling and try to estimate their potential for the future, their current results are actually less important.” Considering this open-minded viewpoint, the recruitment process begins with research. A lot of research. The team deploys an extensive process to find and evaluate possible interesting riders, where Team dsm-firmenich’s innovative nature comes in handy.