The first future star of 2015 is Dutchman Mike Teunissen, a new signing at Team LottoNL – Jumbo. A convert from cyclocross, the 22 year-old is forgoing the cross season for the first time this season as he looks to concentrate purely on the road.
His first team as a junior was the Jagersveld-Merida team (now OrangeBabies). In the 09-10 cross season he was consistent in the Superprestige, racking up three 2nd places as well as a win at Diegem before finishing third in the national championships. Those results, as well as a fourth place in the junior version of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad saw Rabobank-Giant come calling, and the 2010-11 season was his first in the setup that brought him to where he is now.
Second place finishes at the National Championships and the Worlds were the highlights of his second season at junior level. Lars Van Der Haar was the winner on both occasions – he moves up to Giant-Alpecin for 2015. The 2011-12 season saw him narrowly miss out at the European Championships in Lucca, Italy to Van Der Haar, while his compatriot also nabbed the Superprestige title away from him. Despite two wins and three podium places, Teunissen’s twelfth place in the final round at Middelkerke saw him finish as the runner-up in the overall ranking.
The highlight of his time on the road in 2012 was an eighth place in Paris-Roubaix espoirs (the edition which Bob Jungels won), while fifth on GC at the Triptyque Ardennais stage race was another strong result. Teunissen hit the big time in the 2012-13 cross season, as he won the European Championship in Ipswich before taking the big one – the Worlds in Louisville. That season also saw two wins in the Superprestige as well as his first win in the UCI World Cup at Tabor.
While he hit his peak of his cross career, Teunissen’s results on the road were improving too. 2013 saw him finish runner-up to Dylan Van Baarle in the National Championships, while top ten finishes at the Tour des Fjords and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Espoirs were additional strong performances. His first win in a UCI-classified race came in September at the 1.2 ranked Baronie Breda Classic.
It was back to cyclocross for one last time (so far) last winter. The highpoint of the season was a win at Zonhoven in the World Cup, as young guns Mathieu Van Der Poel and Wout Van Aert made their presence felt (the pair have now stepped up to the senior cyclocross calendar and are winning there too). Teunissen’s intentions would become clear as soon as the road season started though..
Last season was the clearest insight yet into the potential of the Dutchman. Fifth place at the U23 version of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen was followed up in June by a dominating performance at Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. After breaking away from the main field along with teammate Ricardo Van Dongen and BMC Development riders Tyler Williams and Bas Tietema, Teunissen simply rode away on the Carrefour de l’Arbre, riding over the line 1:15 ahead of anyone else.
A week later, he finished in third place at the 2.1 ranked stage race Boucles de Mayenne. Later in the month a strong showing saw him finish second at the U23 TT National Championships – it was a signal of what to expect in the final weeks of the season. He doubled up at the Baronie Breda Classic before ending his U23 career with victory at Paris-Tours Espoirs after he and two teammates attacked over 30km from the line.
It all points to a bright future for the Limburg native. In an interview last August he said that his sights are set on trying the larger Spring Classics, saying “I would gain experience by working for the leaders.” Not every rider can burst onto the scene like Tom Boonen, and Teunissen is aware of that, though he wants to leave an impression in his first pro season “I don’t want to shout from the rooftops that I will be going for wins, but I will try to show as much as possible.”
His cyclocross career isn’t over though, just put on hold – “I won’t stop permanently. It’s not possible to do a full program and then peak at the end of March for the Spring Classics.” He certainly has every chance to succeed as part of the new guard of riders at LottoNL-Jumbo such as Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman and Sep Vanmarcke. The Belgian, one of the world’s best cobbled riders, will be a valuable teammate for Teunissen as he looks to learn how to compete at the highest stage of all.
Follow Mike on Twitter, look at his personal site, or read this Lotto-Jumbo Q&A with him.
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