Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters believes it’s van den Berg’s sprint that makes him so lethal and appealing. “He’s a sprinter but he’s actually a very strong sprinter,” Vaughters says. “He’s really good at team time trials – his team won the team time trial at the Tour de l’Avenir – and he climbs very well. He’s not limited to being just a sprinter so he fits into that model of winning races in a non-sequitur way. He can win the sprint out of the breakaway, he can win the sprint out of a group of 40 or 50 that gets selected on a medium mountain day. That’s much more attractive to me than a pure sprinter. Especially with the way cycling is moving, which is more and more of the courses are becoming hillier and harder and race promoters are increasing the number of vertical meters climbed in every race, I think he’s the new type of sprinter that we’re looking for on this team, productive even when the race is hard all day long.”
Van den Berg aims to continue this growth in the upcoming season. “I hope to get stronger like I’ve done every year. Every year, I’ve taken a step and gotten a little bit better, so if I can take another step next year, I hope that will get me to the right level for the WorldTour.”
The 22-year-old says that seeing his progress only encourages him to push a little harder to see what else he can achieve. “When you see that you can do better and then you race and you see that you are one of the best at your level, that feeling of ‘I am doing well’ really motivates me. I think next year I will already be really motivated just because I’m on EF Education-NIPPO.”
He explains why signing with EF is the right move for him. “The trust that they gave me that I may get a chance for myself in some races and getting to develop as a good rider is super exciting. That’s why EF is the best option for me.”
Van den Berg is approaching 2022 with optimism and humility. “I don’t expect that I will win a stage in every race that I do. I can be happy if I have a few good results like a top ten or top five somewhere. I’m really curious where I stand in the WorldTour peloton.”
“I can’t wait to be on the team for next year,” van den Berg says. “I’m super happy that I found a team like EF for the coming season. I’m really happy about it!”
We can’t wait either. Welcome to the team!
— Mary Lee Mahony to www.efprocycling.com