Frank van den Broek climbs in a pack of racers. They're somewhat speed-blurred, but his blue-and-white DSM jersey is in sharp focus.

Frank van den Broek will make his own name

The Dutch neo pro's career is off to a blurry-fast start.

José Been
by José Been 07.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Frank van den Broek is a name, however it is spelled, that is made for cycling. The DSM Firmenich-PostNL rider only just turned professional in January but already has his first overall win in a stage race. In April he won the queen stage and the overall classification in the Tour of Türkiye. It doesn’t end there. On Sunday he starts the Tour de Suisse and he is on the long list for his first Grand Tour, the Tour de France. Things move fast in Van den Broek’s career.

But it took a detour for him to enter the sport at all – thanks to an injury sustained in a school rugby match. 

“I tore the cruciate ligament in my knee,” he told Escape Collective from Tenerife, where he did his first altitude training camp. “That was the end of contact sports. It wasn’t a fun moment,” he said, although he smiled as he spoke.

“But it did bring me something good because I started cycling at our club RTV De Bollenstreek. Cycling was something me and my family did before. I rode the cyclosportive Joop Zoetemelk Classic when I was a kid. It was mostly recreational but that feeling of wanting to compete grew and from the age of 14 it became more serious with races.” 

Van den Broek lives in Voorhout, the Netherlands, in the middle of the tulip fields that attract people from all over the world every spring. The world-famous Keukenhof is around the corner. The start of his career didn’t blossom though. 

“I was just doing races on the club circuit and when I got a race license, I was happy I could finish the [longer] races in the first place.” He smiles at the memory. His cycling career did start to progress faster and faster although there were some setbacks too that explain why he was “already” 23 when he turned pro.

“I was still relatively small when I became a junior,” says the now 1.73 m/5’8″ tall Dutchman. “By then I could follow the others nicely but then I crashed in one of the Classics and in the first race back I broke my collarbone. I also did my school exams, so I didn’t race all that much.” 

It wasn’t until 2020 when Van den Broek started riding more. He didn’t go to university straight away and when Covid-19 hit he lost his temporary job at the flower auction, so he had all the time in the world to ride. 

Frank van den Broek rides solo at the front of the 2023 Dutch national road race championship.
Van den Broek’s aggressive ride at Dutch road nationals caught the eye of pro teams and helped land his WorldTour deal with DSM Firmenich-PostNL.

He really started to love doing his training rounds and felt he was becoming stronger. From the club team of De Jonge Renner he joined the third division team ABloc in 2023 and the DSM development team six months later. He won a stage in Qinghai Lake, his first pro win. But he really stood out the Dutch national championships that year, going on a long-range attack with Bart Lemmen to finish in the top 10 in the road race (and 6th in the time trial) against a deep field of WorldTour pros. That attracted the attention of DSM, and he signed a rookie contract with the team through 2026.

“Those national championships seemed like a moment people noticed me, but I felt before that I could follow the WorldTour riders, that I had that level. I didn’t really do a lot of races with the development team,” he explained.

His WorldTour debut came in Oman, barely six weeks after turning 23. That seems old in modern days where riders turn pro straight from the junior ranks. But everything in Van den Broek’s career just fell into place when it did. 

“It was never my intention to turn pro,” he said. “I thought, ‘I am just going to finish my IT sciences degree and then start a job.’ It all turned out a bit differently. My colleagues in the development team had put everything into cycling from a young age. My path was different. It felt more accidental that I was really good at cycling.” 

Van den Broek comes across as an intelligent person who carefully formulates his answers and sometimes feels even amazed at where he stands now. That intelligence also shone through when he won the queen stage in the Tour of Türkiye in April. After a 14-kilometer climb he beat Merhawi Kudus and Paul Double by staying very level-headed and not being tempted to work too much. It’s not only in small groups where his intelligence shows; Van den Broek, as a climber, also holds his position well at the front of the peloton.

“I raced a lot of these circuit races in Belgium,” he explained. “That really taught me to hold my position or get in breakaways. The pace is really high in these races, so they are great to learn these skills. In a Classic I find that still hard but at the foot of a climb it really comes in handy.”

Van den Broek raced a varied program in his first professional year with stage races like Oman, Türkiye and Hungary but also classics like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race.

“I am developing,” he answered when I asked him what kind of rider he is. “One month I think I am going all in for the Classis, then it’s breakaway wins in a stage race. I lean more towards the overall classification in stage races now which I showed in Hungary and Türkiye. This is a great way for me to find out where I want to go. I signed for three years so that is nice. It gives me time. My path also is different to those turning pro younger and maybe being pushed in a certain direction that maybe didn’t suit them.”

Frank van den Broek clenches his fists and yells out in triumph as he wins stage 5 of the 2024 Tour of Türkiye.
Van den Broek ticked off another box with his first overall stage-race win at April’s Tour of Türkiye.

Next up for Van den Broek is the Tour de Suisse. It’s his second WorldTour stage race after Volta a Catalunya, and is why he was at Tenerife when we spoke.

“It’s my first altitude camp. I did have one of these tents before but staying at altitude for a longer period is a first. It’s a great family feeling being in a house together with our own chef. It’s absolutely not stressful. We play cards together every night,” he said with a laugh. “I will have to see what it does to the body afterwards but so far I feel I am getting stronger.” 

Van den Broek spends a lot of time watching races, analyzing and reading. He also learns a lot from the post-race briefings and from his weekly call with his sports director Pim Ligthart. He also learns from previous mistakes. 

“I consider every race as a learning moment to take into the future. That’s also why I like doing many race days. I learn something new. Someone like Mathieu van der Poel doesn’t have to learn anything so he races less but for me every experience helps me get better. I didn’t expect to join this altitude camp and to be considered for a Tour de France spot. I was expecting the Vuelta to be my first Grand Tour.”

DSM’s Tour de France lineup hasn’t been announced yet. The Tour de Suisse is up frst where Van den Broek hopes to go for a stage win. With two wins already he considers his first season a success. 

Finally, his name. Did his parents want to make a cycling reference to Frank Vandenbroucke when they named him? Van den Broek isn’t even sure that he knows.

“My parents tend to act a bit mysterious about the name,” he said with a laugh. “It’s not that Frank is a name that goes from generation to generation in our family. Maybe we will just leave it a mystery whether my parents got inspired by Vandenbroucke to also name me Frank.”

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