Looking to build for the future, Team dsm-firmenich are thrilled to reveal the signings of Johan Dorussen, Ryan Gal, Mees Vlot and Thom van der Werff to their Development program for the 2024 campaign, with all riders set to wear the two-striped kit through the 2025 season.
Photo Credit: KNWU Clubcompetitie
Hailing from Beuningen, Dorussen has plied his trade with the Dutch Food Valley Cycling Team since making the step up to the U23 ranks in 2022. After a solid start to the season, the latter part of 2022 saw Dorussen take three impressive wins at the Elite 1 level in the Netherlands: either from sprint finishes or attacking groups. This season saw Team dsm-firmenich and Dutch Food Valley Cycling Team enter a co-operation which has seen mixed squads fielded at the U23 Road Series, benefiting both teams and groups of riders. Dorussen has impressed in those races, working hard in support of the team’s goals, but also seizing the opportunities presented to him and taking a strong second place on the final stage at the Internationaal Belfotenweekend after a fast day out. Since then, he’s continued to show his finishing talents with wins at the one-day race of Wielerdag Noordenveld and on the final stage of Oderrundfahrt in Germany.
Dorussen expressed: “In the U23 road series I saw how Team dsm-firmenich and the Dutch Food Valley Cycling Team rode together; how professional the team is, and I think that it will fit me well as a rider and person. Over the last years, Team dsm-firmenich has shown to be really good at developing riders and taking them to the next level. From the outside I like the team spirit that they seem to have and I’m looking forward to getting nice results together as a team. At the moment I would say that my best quality is my sprint, especially after a hard day, but I think I still have a lot to learn and to improve on so I’m looking forward to trying to get the most out of myself with the team. I like to think I have a tactical brain and can read races well, plus have some good communication skills, so I want to bring that to the team so we can reach our goals together.”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna added: “Johan has really impressed us in the races that we have done in collaboration with Dutch Food Valley Cycling Team, and he has clearly learned a lot from his time with them. He is someone that we see as a finisher, and that packs a good punch, especially after a hard day, but he also can read races well so he can be a good card to play from breakaways where he can finish things off for the team. Further to that, he has a strong character and mindset which we think will fit in the team well, and that he holds himself and those around him to the highest of standards; and this will bring added value to our Development program.”
Dutch Food Valley Cycling Team team manager René Bastiaansen concluded: “It’s really nice to see Johan move to Team dsm-firmenich’s Development program. This step is not only well-deserved but also a great result of our collaboration with the team.”
Photo Credit: HGRS Media
After a promising time as an U17 rider, Gal has continued to impress after making the step-up in his final two seasons as a junior with the Gepla-Watersley R&D Road Team. A powerful rider, Gal showed his ability against the clock in 2022 with sixth place at the Dutch national championships – an impressive result for a first-year junior – before going on to take second place behind his teammate at the Medzinárodné Dubnica nad Vàhom prologue. Rounding out last year, he was third at the Sauerländer Bergpreis Juniors after spending 60 kilometres on the attack. 2023 has seen Gal continue to make progress, winning the TT Circuit Assen junior race before a close second in the opening prologue at Ster van Zuid-Limburg. Clearly adept against the clock, his crowning glory so far has been taking victory at the Dutch national championships TT after a strong ride over the 21-kilometre course, just edging out his teammate Mees Vlot to the title.
Gal said: “I think the team has been really good at developing young riders and have their Development program for a number of years now. Also the professionalism of the team is really good too and that’s important for me. When I talked to them there was a lot of trust given to me, which made me feel valued. My main goal for the coming years is to develop myself but it will also be nice to experience how everything is at the next level, and in the Development program of a WorldTour team then you get some of the experience of what it’s like to be a pro rider already. For the moment I see myself as quite an all-round rider, but I would say my strengths where I excel are in the time trials and on climbs, but of course in the coming years at the next level I will discover more about myself in general, and I want to improve overall. I’m a team player and I’m always willing to help the other guys when needed so I think I can bring that value to the team too.”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna continued: “Ryan has been on our radar already since last year. He has shown some really impressive performances on the bike, such as his win in the time trial at the Dutch national championships, beating some strong guys who have proved internationally that they can be with the best. We believe that we haven’t seen the best of Ryan yet due to him suffering some bad luck this season with crashes. We’re curious to see where his development will go in the future, for example, he hasn’t competed yet on the longer climbs in the junior ranks. Like everyone that joins the team, we will work on building that base level and help him improve overall as much as possible as a rider, but we see him as someone with the profile for the Ardennes or possibly even GC if he continues to develop.”
Photo Credit: Lance Huenders
Bursting onto the scene in his opening year in the junior ranks, Vlot tasted success with victory on stage three of the Cottbuser Juniors, where he finished fifth overall, before going on to win Coppa Montes later in the month. Continuing to perform well in the opening half of the year he then took good GC results at Course de la Paix and Pays de Vaud, before picking up the win at Zuid-Holland-Noord-Holland-Midden JR and second place in the Dutch national championships TT. 2023 has seen Vlot perform consistently again, picking up several top results with third overall at the Ster van Zuid-Limburg, sixth at Course de la Paix plus third on GC at Driedaagse Axel Junior; an impressive string of performances. Recently he has once again shown his proficiency against the clock too with second place in the Dutch national TT championships.
Vlot proclaimed: “What attracts me to the team is their professionalism and that the team really works together to make each other better. I’m looking forward to developing over these years with this professional structure and learning from others that have more experience in things like nutrition or training. I see myself more as a GC rider so I really want to improve my climbing to become a better GC rider. My goals for the next years are to develop with the team and to learn as much as possible on and off the bike with the experience Team dsm-firmenich has. That can be things like developing my climbing skills or things like tactics and technical skills. Of course, I’m hoping to achieve some good results in races too with the team when the opportunities are there.”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna said: “As an U17 rider Mees was really strong, if not one of the strongest in the bunch. When he stepped up to the U19 ranks he had a very strong start to the season but suffered a bit from overtraining later on, which meant he wasn’t able to show his capabilities as much. Slowly, he’s coming back to his level again this season. Mees has shown that on his day he is one of the best juniors in the field. He has a good TT on him but also good climbing skills. Furthermore, he is a determined guy who is really motivated for cycling and getting the most out of himself; so we think that approach will fit in well to our Development program.”
Photo Credit: Valentin Jacobs
Thom van der Werff
Hailing from Annen in the Drenthe region of the Netherlands, Van der Werff had a strong start to his junior career with promising results at races such as GP West Bohemia before going on to take a brilliant win at the GP Bon Jungels Juniors over a challenging and hilly course. The remainder of 2022 saw him preform consistently with several other top tens and building a base for this season. Starting 2023 brightly, the months of March and April saw him pick up an impressive 11 top tens from 14 stages or days of racing: including a stage win and the KOM jersey at the Ster van Zuid-Limburg. Building towards the second part of the season, Van der Werff made another trip to the podium for the KOM jersey at Driedaagse Axel Juniors, before going on to finish sixth in the Dutch road race and in the same position on GC at the Watersley Junior Challenge.
Van der Werff expressed: “The team really attracted me because of their Development program, where they have shown that a lot of riders made some big progress and could make the step to the WorldTour with the team, which is something I dream of. I’m really looking forward to working with such professional guidance and developing myself; getting the best out of my abilities and growing as a rider. I think at the moment I’m a bit of a puncheur with a decent sprint, but we will see what happens in the future. I hope I will fit in well with the team as one of my strengths is that I’m a team player, and I think that is something the team values.”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna concluded: “In the junior ranks Thom has shown himself as a puncheur and one-day classics rider; picking up some good results. It’s not only his physical capabilities that impressed us but also his mental attributes too. Thom is a real racer and can understand how the race is unfolding really well out on the road in terms of tactics and how best to react in the hectic moments; which will bring value to the group. We think that at the moment he is someone that fits the profile of the hilly classics and can also win stages in races too in the right situations, but we will also continue to focus on his overall development first and foremost in his opening years with us as he makes the step up to U23 racing.”