Team DSM thread

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Team DSM bites back: "Our way of working is the future".

"That 'working together' also means that everyone sticks to their role. Just like a mechanic doesn't bother with tactics, riders have to stick to their role. And accept being told that something is better.. "
I'll translate:

The SYSTEM is more important than the riders. It's very rigid, it takes years to develop riders, but it's perfect, and riders are flawed.
We used to force riders on the way out but that's not our fault. Now we won't even allow them to leave, as they are ofcourse better off when forced into our perfect system.

DSM reminds me of Scientology, and Kemna thinks he is Tom Cruise.
 
I'll translate:

The SYSTEM is more important than the riders. It's very rigid, it takes years to develop riders, but it's perfect, and riders are flawed.
We used to force riders on the way out but that's not our fault. Now we won't even allow them to leave, as they are ofcourse better off when forced into our perfect system.

DSM reminds me of Scientology, and Kemna thinks he is Tom Cruise.
(angry emoji) Volderke
Not angry at you but that situation and that weird team!!!!!
 
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This can't be good for any of the sides involved. Van Wilder will see his market value plummet and lose a year of cycling while DSM gets nothing in return for the investment and its public image is further ruined.
Hard to believe they can't resolve the issue.
 
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In Belgian press today:
Ilan Van Wilder is demoralized and doesn’t train anymore.

thanks for managing a 21-year old, team DSM! Van Wilder was stupid to sign there, though.
Could be the Belgian press helping him to keep his name in the media so hopefully a rich team will scoop him up. There isn't that much time left.

Then again, it's not a good look that he stopped training altogether. He's still young, but it's less than 1.5 years, tops. He should be looking ahead, IMO. Get some mental help. Maybe the Belgian federation can help out?

Can the UCI do something, if they'll continue to sabotage his career?
 
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Well maybe his cooperation really isn't that good.

Despite him being only 21-years old, he should realize he has a contract with a team that is paying him decent money. During his first year he hasn't delivered much, and now during his second year he doesn't seem to have a very good attitude.

I am also of the opinion that DSM doesn't is handling their riders in a weird way lately. But van Wilder doesn't seem entirely free of blame in this whole situation either.
 
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They just sound creepier and creepier at this point. They don't even understand basic human psychology and because of that good riders will continue to leave them.
I wonder if UCI can start an investigation into DSM/Sunweb. This is indeed getting creepier every day. It is not just 1 rider, there have been multiple "incidents" in the past. Some, like Hirschi, who had to sign confidentiality agreements.

I understand Van wilder is only hurting himself by not training but I can understand why he does not. The team's behaviour is not quite motivating him and he is only 21 years old.

I feel the management in that Dutch interview kinda admits that they were no selecting Ilan for the Vuelta because of "lack of cooperation", so probably just because he had been criticizing the material or so, which is sabotaging his career.

I think the only team willing to pay for him to leave DSM would probably be UAE. They have done it in the past, but there not a lot of belgian ties to that team. Hirschi had Cancellara getting to Gianetti.

He is a big talent, but I don't see any other teams paying for him to leave DSM.
 
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I wonder if UCI can start an investigation into DSM/Sunweb. This is indeed getting creepier every day. It is not just 1 rider, there have been multiple "incidents" in the past. Some, like Hirschi, who had to sign confidentiality agreements.

I understand Van wilder is only hurting himself by not training but I can understand why he does not. The team's behaviour is not quite motivating him and he is only 21 years old.

I feel the management in that Dutch interview kinda admits that they were no selecting Ilan for the Vuelta because of "lack of cooperation", so probably just because he had been criticizing the material or so, which is sabotaging his career.

I think the only team willing to pay for him to leave DSM would probably be UAE. They have done it in the past, but there not a lot of belgian ties to that team. Hirschi had Cancellara getting to Gianetti.

He is a big talent, but I don't see any other teams paying for him to leave DSM.
This post is quite full of assumptions. Are you sure DSM is the involved party that wanted to have the confidentiality agreement for example? Are you sure 'the lack of cooperation' comes from criticizing the material?

Yes DSM has had a number of incidents in recent years with their riders, and the number of incidents seem to be increasing which is worrying. However they have also had quite a high number of successes with riders they developed themselves. However that number seems to be decreasing, which is also worrying for them.

But in my opinion there is a rather big difference between the earlier incidents and this one. Dumoulin, Kittel and Matthews for example had already achieved quite a lot at Sunweb. They went there and developed into world-class riders (Ok Matthews maybe didn't develop much more) also due to the development strategy that sunweb had. After becoming world-class riders and winning a lot they were looking for a new challenge in a less strict environment. Van Wilder however is at the start of his career, and even though he is undeniable a big talent, he hasn't really achieved jack ***. However his attitude in the media and on social media towards his current employer is far from respectful. So i can also understand that DSM is less willing to let him leave on good terms than with earlier incidents with Dumoulin, Kittel and Matthews who at least gave Sunweb quite a bit in return during their career with them.

Maybe there is a correlation between those two patterns mentioned earlier, because the long-term development strategy seems to be overtaken by some teams who manage to develop riders into world-beaters the moment they join the World Tour, which could cause other younger riders to become unsatisfied at an earlier stage. Still those young guys should treat there employer with a degree of respect rather than having their managers offer them to other teams while being under contract or posting statements on social media that he wants a new environment next year.
 
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If he stopped training, Van Wilder is sabotaging his own carreer.
Pretty much what I implied - that he is also to blame if he has stopped training altogether. Male brains aren't fully developed yet at age 21, though. So I try to keep that in mind.

Team DSM lets Ilan ride races, only not the Vuelta he so badly wanted. I didn't know that riding a Vuelta was a human right.
No, but they removed the Vuelta from his schedule out of spite / or lack of "cooperation". He was set to ride it. IMO this reeks of abuse.

If Van Wilder is at fault, fine, but IMO the team should be looked into. Van Wilder is not an isolated case. I don't know if that's possible, but I wish it were.
 
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No, but they removed the Vuelta from his schedule out of spite / or lack of "cooperation". He was set to ride it. IMO this reeks of abuse.
That happens all the time in all teams. You can plan what you want, but everything is subject to change. We don't know what lack of cooperation is, for all we know it's breaking team rules, i.e. employer rules. Maybe they are ridiculous, maybe very reasonable, but Van Wilder must have known them when he signed the team. If he is forced to lead the peloton 80kms long over the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix, that's abuse.

Edit: wildly speculating here, but maybe they required him to being vaccinated? (Sorry, lack of specific communication is good for privacy, but bad for speculations.)
 
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If Ilan had a good form, which he likely had, and is just kept home for "lack of cooperation" it is messing/sabotaging with his career.

Of course posting things on social media might not be the smartest move as he still does not seem to have any sight on a new team next year who pays him out. It is likely he will need to stay at DSM for one more year so he has 2 options in that case: stop training and no racing which will not help finding a team next year. Or just cooperating for one more year, talk to the management and yeah agree with their way of working.

The social media posts wont have helped any discussion with the management so it looks very grim even for his racing schedule next year then.

But again, he is 21. I understand he feels down and desperate and maybe sees instagram as a bit of way to let people know his story/put pressure on DSM (highly unlikely it will have an impression)
 
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That happens all the time in all teams. You can plan what you want, but everything is subject to change. We don't know what lack of cooperation is, for all we know it's breaking team rules, i.e. employer rules. Maybe they are ridiculous, maybe very reasonable, but Van Wilder must have known them when he signed the team. If he is forced to lead the peloton 80kms long over the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix, that's abuse.
I have read the original problems started when Van Wilder complained about not getting a time trial bike at home for training.

I am not sure if no criticism of the material is in DSM's guidelines, but I think it was kind of a fair question from Van Wilder if you saw his results in TTs.

DSM kind of looks like a totalitary regime, no questions are to be asked.
 
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That happens all the time in all teams. You can plan what you want, but everything is subject to change. We don't know what lack of cooperation is, for all we know it's breaking team rules, i.e. employer rules. Maybe they are ridiculous, maybe very reasonable, but Van Wilder must have known them when he signed the team. If he is forced to lead the peloton 80kms long over the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix, that's abuse.
Well he was forced to start the Vuelta last year while injured. And not surprisingly he DNFed stage 1.
He's probably not the easiest character to handle, I'll give you that, but surely DSM is also to blame for Van Wilder's management.
 
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Seems the women's team have dealt with some of the issues as the men - former rider Pernille Mathiesen was forced to loose weight, which meant she developed an unhealthy relationship with food, lost her passion for cycling and also wasn't allowed to pratice tt much during her 3 years on DSM. She has seemed a shadow of her former self with Visma this season, hope DSM hasn't broken her forever.
https://www.feltet.dk/nyheder/mathiesen_ol_er_ikke_foersteprioritet/
 
I have read the original problems started when Van Wilder complained about not getting a time trial bike at home for training.

I am not sure if no criticism of the material is in DSM's guidelines, but I think it was kind of a fair question from Van Wilder if you saw his results in TTs.
Yes, it is a fair request. Team DSM already admitted they had a shortage of material, due to the Covid problems/lockdowns. Yes, that is a problem for someone like Van WIlder and other TT/GC riders. However, if there are no bikes it's very diffcult to provide him with one.
 
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Yes, it is a fair request. Team DSM already admitted they had a shortage of material, due to the Covid problems/lockdowns. Yes, that is a problem for someone like Van WIlder and other TT/GC riders. However, if there are no bikes it's very diffcult to provide him with one.
Ok DSM does not have the biggest budget, but I have never heard about any shortage of bikes anywhere else.

They could have maybe let him bring his race TT bike home or so so he could train on that one.

Or maybe he could partially share a TT bike with someone else who has one.

They are always solutions.

I think the bike situation will also be one of many little things that eventually made the situation explode.

Him starting the Vuelta injured last year was probably not a fun experience either.
 
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So if he is allowed to start the Vuelta it is not a fun experience. But if he is not allowed to start the Vuelta it is abusive and they are sabotaging his career.

Seems very hard to do it right these days for the DSM Management. :D
 
So if he is allowed to start the Vuelta it is not a fun experience. But if he is not allowed to start the Vuelta it is abusive and they are sabotaging his career.

Seems very hard to do it right these days for the DSM Management. :D
it was clearly known he was injured last year. Letting an injured cyclist start a GT is insane…

This year he was building up his whole season to this Vuelta. It was his main goal.
 
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Seems the women's team have dealt with some of the issues as the men - former rider Pernille Mathiesen was forced to loose weight, which meant she developed an unhealthy relationship with food, lost her passion for cycling and also wasn't allowed to pratice tt much during her 3 years on DSM. She has seemed a shadow of her former self with Visma this season, hope DSM hasn't broken her forever.
https://www.feltet.dk/nyheder/mathiesen_ol_er_ikke_foersteprioritet/
Maybe we can hear a bit after her retirement at the end of the year from Janneke Ensing, whose brief stint at Sunweb was an interesting and bizarre diversion. She'd been a part-timer largely alongside her speed-skating until her late 20s, and had some good results with Parkhotel before 2 very successful years at Alé-Cipollini, where she was ever combative, always entertaining and visible. Her signing with Sunweb was quite the high profile move, especially as both Ellen van Dijk and Ruth Winder were leaving the team after their first contract was up. Yet by the end of April she was a complete afterthought and early in May the team and her parted ways by mutual consent, before she went on to join WNT and achieve at, if not equivalent to her previous level, then something much more approximating it.

Very little has come out on either side about what led to it and what hints there have been appear to suggest a similar issue to what is being seen on the men's side, with the team being strict and disciplinarian about the way things were going to be, and Janneke, as a 32-year-old who had been competing in endurance sport for over a decade across her skating and cycling careers, knew how her body reacted to various loads and training and what worked for her and what didn't and felt that knowledge and experience was being dismissed. I'd love to get a bit more of an understanding of why this was so unworkable that it had to be terminated almost as soon as it began.

On the flip side, though, DSM women have got a lot of long-standing riders who've thrived under that environment. Some of them are youngsters who have only ever been at DSM - Liane Lippert, Juliette Labous, even Floortje Mackaij - so it's hard to tell if this is actually their maximum, but they're certainly prominent and successful so the team can hardly be regarded as having failed them, but there's also people who have come across at an older age or have been on other teams before who have found a long-term settled home on the team, like Coryn Rivera and Leah Kirchmann, while the jury can remain out on whether this was the right move for Lorena Wiebes because of the disruption to the calendar lately as she remains in a position of major prominence in the sprints, but with so many Dutch and Belgian races having been cancelled or delayed this has meant the number of them has been reduced of late.
 
I was quite blunt in my previous comments, and after reading the latest reactions, I will add a bit more of my thoughts:


Some anecdotes:
  1. Van Wilder was physically ready for this Vuelta. This means he has trained hard the whole summer, and now he doesn't have a race, and soon it will be september and almost the end of the season. But he wasn't taken because of lack of cooperation. Is Van Wilder a diva? Doesn't he listen to the team orders? Is he disrespectful towards other riders, coaches, mechanics,...? I don't know. I do know that Van Wilder wanted the fashionable aerobars that are in use by all TT specialists. At DSM, only some riders in the team are getting them. Van Wilder wanted them for his TT, and he didn't get them. So it wasn't about the lack of bikes, but more about the fine tuning of equipment. (edit: it's even worse: I already heard this story but couldn't believe it, but it goes that Van Wilder didn't get a disc wheel to ride his Belgian championship TT...!). It seems DSM saw that as demanding too much...
  2. Van Wilder indeed had to start last Vuelta with an injury. Kemna argued that they couldn't replace him anymore on the eve of the start of the Vuelta. So it seems they just gave it a go and tried. Van Wilder was probably eager as well to just start and try. I cannot imagine DSM having forced him to start (edit: I heard though the grapevine that Van Wilder was forced to start, against his own will...!). But it wasn't smart. And since that Vuelta, Van Wilder has been promised to ride the Vuelta this year.
  3. Kragh Andersen wanted his seatpost lowered by a few mm just before the start of Paris-Nice. DSM thinks it is disrespectful towards the (professional) bike fitter, so it refused. DSM also argues that this can lead to injury.
  4. Storer was leaving the bubble in July 2020 to buy shampoo. That was seen as a high risk just before the Tour. But during this year's Tour, Kemna came into the bubble, went out to buy ice cream and thus breached the policy he used to remove Storer.
DSM seems to me like a very corporate and regulated environment: everyone has his role, everyone is professional, there are strict rules and protocols, and ignoring those rules and protocols is always seen as a big issue. Not necessarily for the result of not following the rule, but for the precedent and settings examples. This works well in big companies that have a hierarchy, and people can climb in that hierarchy after some time. It shows a drive to think in the long term and to aim for high and consistent standards.

But DSM is not a big company. Cyclists have short, and insecure careers and they don't have years to climb in a hierarchy in a corporate environment. And cyclists who actually win races, often have a strong and independent character and are demanding. This mindset doesn't match well with a corporate environment.
The result we see now, is that DSM either has young talents, or subtop sprinters / classics guys that would have to work for other riders in other teams. They don't get results, because they put the team philosophy even above winning races.
Winning races seems to be a by-product, and the team philosophy seems to be the absolute priority. Even worse: the team philosophy doesn't seem to guarantee any wins in the long term. So one has to wonder: what is the team philosophy actually good for? It mostly seems to guarantee conflicts with riders.

As a result, I can only imagine that the general atmosphere at DSM is one of hierarchy in terms of the content of everything cycling related, and while Kemna claims it's very transparent, I doubt that a lot of things are spoken out loudly, especially giving critique if the team isn't winning. The riders don't have to give critique anyway: if the team and coaches tell them how to train, how to ride and even what tire pressure they will get, they can only blame the management and don't have to worry (if they obey) that they have personal blame. If you hear the interviews with Kelderman, he suggests that experienced riders don't fit within DSM, because those riders have already figured out what works for them, and they don't need a team like DSM telling them that it has to change because the team tells them.
So DSM is a good team for young kids that need direction, and that don't know how to improve, but the philosophy prevents it from ever being a true succesful team for more than the odd year in which they drafted some very big talents (like with Hirschi).

My main gripe with the team, is thus that they seem to overmanage their riders (treat them like dependent children), in a technocratic way that doesn't leave much room for rider's initiative. That's all fine when you are winning, but if you're not winning or there is a conflict, the team philosophy prevents any satisfying solution other than to leave the team. I can imagine the riders are collegial and close-knit, but I can't imagine there is an adult relation between the management and the riders, if you're not even allowed to lower your saddle for a few millimeters (for this reason alone, Merckx would not fit in the team, and neither Tom Boonen). In the end, I thought a cycling team is about winning. If you can't keep riders that are winning, and you end up with a non-winning bunch of subtop riders and upcoming talents, you have a team without the uplifting spirit of celebrating a win.

From an employee perspective, DSM's philosophy is clearly not directed to satisfy the needs / desires or to manage the frustrations of their riders. DSM pays money, provides everything (and maybe even too much), but with so much support and protocols in place, it means that DSM doesn't leave much room for the 'product' they manage (human beings). They seem to have forgotten to implement that human character into their 'professional' team philosophy, designed for robots and slaves.
 
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All of it was confirmed by team management. Although it is not the sheer disrespect, but also that riders shouldn't change position last minute. After the race he would be allowed to discuss with the bike fitter and change the height if that was the conclusion of the discussion. Seems fair to me.
When asked about it afterwards, his reaction was basically; "Where did that come from?"
Also, from what I understood, the weird thing was that they wanted to change his position - because of the new bikes - while he wanted to stick with the old.
 
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