Apple CEO Tim Cook is currently on a European tour, visiting various tech companies in the Spanish capital of Madrid, Denmark’s Copenhagen, and dropping by the Netherlands. While in the land of stroopwafels and tulips, he also took the time to meet one of the country’s most successful sporting exports: Jumbo-Visma.
“As a lifelong cycling fan,”
Tim Cook one of Tim Cook’s presumably inumerous personal assistants tweeted on his behalf, “it was an honour to meet Jumbo-Visma’s Riejanne Markus and Richard Plugge.”
“We talked about our season and the way we use technology in cycling and our Foodcoach app,” Plugge explained in his own tweet. But what if their conversation was more than that?
Wait a minute, the internet cried in chorus. Jumbo-Visma are looking for a new headline sponsor, and now-discovered-big-cycling-fan Tim Cook leads a company that has annual revenues of $383.933 billion and a market capitalisation of 2.67 trillion. Maybe he could spare $0.033bn of that to fund the best team in the world?
With Jumbo definitely pulling out after 2024, and wanting to pull out as soon as the start of next year if permitted, team boss Plugge has a job on his hands to find the best deal for his most successful team. He’s not dismissed rumours of sizeable investment from Saudi Arabia or of a potential merger with Soudal Quick-Step, and following the meeting with Tim Cook, he teased that a North American company could also be an option.
“I think the North American market is very interested,” Plugge told Velo. “Sponsors are welcome, so if a sponsor would like to join us, they are certainly welcome. We have some things in place, there are no worries.”
Of course, an Apple sponsorship is extremely unlikely. The tech giant doesn’t have a long history of sponsorship deals. Sure, they foisted their watches upon the Met Gala in 2016 and they have paid for Apple Music to ‘power’ the Super Bowl halftime show as well as German football club Bayern Munich, in the case of the latter presumably to get as many Bavarians as possible saying ‘Ja, diese Apple Music ist super gut.”
Regardless of likelihood, we often prefer to let our minds wander. Consider a future that could be. So, what would Apple-Visma, or more likely simply Team Apple (oh god, even saying it sounds amazing), look and feel like? From the possibility of a potential fling with Quick-Step to being steadfastly all about QuickTime. Let us present to you Team Apple v1.0.
The start of season presentation
“One more thing …” Richard Plugge says after spending a laboriously long time explaining how his team’s goals for the next season are once again to win the Grand Tours, major Classics …everything.
He reaches into the neckline of his jumper and rolls it upwards. Turns out he was wearing a turtle neck all along. The squad that until a moment ago were known as Jumbo-Visma walk out onto the stage, all wearing matching black turtleneck sweaters, blue jeans, and white New Balance trainers, in true Steve Jobs dadcore fashion. The Apple logo flashes up on the screen behind, the assembled media forget they’re supposed to pretend to be unfeeling conveyors of cold facts and statistics and start whooping and hollering alongside the other invited guests.
“Soon there will be two kinds of people,” Plugge continues. “Those who support cycling teams, and those who support Team Apple”.
Later on, Christophe Laporte takes centre stage and starts trying to display the new features on the latest iPad, but the Face ID won’t work and his hands are so nervously sweaty that he can’t work the touch screen. Despite his successes at the team, he suddenly begins to pine for the simpler days at Cofidis where he would finish eighth and everyone was happy with that. He gets off stage and immediately calls his agent to figure him out a transfer back to the warm Luddite embrace of Cofidis.
In a world of cluttered Intermarché-Circus-Wantys and Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces WB kits (not that there’s anything wrong with them at all … depending on who you ask), just take a minute, close your eyes, and imagine what a Team Apple cycling kit would look like. A squad of cycling Robocops on their way to closing out another Grand Tour podium in completely minimal silver strips. Or maybe it would be white with silver details, or a number of coloured bands on the sleeves to celebrate each new iPhone colour. The most stylish the WorldTour has ever been and it’s not even close.
Suddenly, all of the dentists gunning it around London’s Richmond Park have a replica set, while it’s more noticeable on America’s West Coast who is not wearing an Apple kit. The effect is so immense that after a few years, old Team Sky jerseys became fashionable and are considered vintage gear, a backlash against Team Apple’s stranglehold on the Grand Tours they’ve had since 2023 and is still going strong in 2026.
In 2027 the jersey incorporates the iconic rainbow Apple logo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rob Janoff’s design. The UCI considers suing them over the use of the rainbow but for once common sense prevails and the governing body doesn’t scare away the biggest sponsor to ever grace the sport. This Apple kit is the best kit ever made, every other team gives up and goes back to the navy groupthink that took over the peloton a few years ago.
The kits are so good that even Jumbo-Visma’s detractors at the height of the 2023 Vuelta a España controversy can’t help but switch sides. Everyone wants to “Think Different,” which means that no-one does, but that hardly matters because everyone looks absolutely unreal. One man alone stands in defiance. Yves Lampaert. He’s still got his Google Pixel because he says the camera is better and won’t hear otherwise.
With the Apple Watch’s power meter integration coming just in time for the sponsorship takeover, all of the riders wear them in race, also because they’ve figured out that tilting their heads towards their wrist instead of looking down at their stem is actually much more aerodynamic now that their helmets are shaped like iMac G3s.
When a Team Apple rider rolls off the time trial start ramp, such as recent signing and 2024 time trial world champion Joshua Tarling, the team is contractually obliged for a minuscule yet booming speaker to be embedded in the bike’s frame and make the classic Apple booting up noise as each rider’s effort begins. Time trials are now fun.
After being forced to switch out from Lightning cable to USB-C and then back to Lightning 2.0, Wout van Aert finally loses his cool and chucks them all out, vowing to never use a phone ever again. A frazzled Merijn Zeeman tries to smooth things over but newshound Dan Benson has already dug the mangled cables out of Van Aert’s bin and is set on publishing the photos. A wireless charging pad is couriered over to the Team Apple bus and publicly given to Van Aert, and crisis is averted. Meanwhile, sales of wireless charging pads go through the roof in Belgium and no-one in the country has to use power-saving mode on their iPhones ever again.
The sponsorship tie-ins
On the bus before the race start, the usual preparatory meeting is being held. Sports director Grischa Niermann is explaining how he wants the day to unfold. Gone is his surfer-chic style and indulgence for swearing profusely at any given opportunity. Instead, he’s gone full Silicon Valley tech bro. He wears all black at all times and the gelled spikes of his hair are now slicked back in the way that only people with buckets of money style it.
He instructs his eight riders to don their Apple Vision Pros so he can point out a few tricky sections of the course and also preview the final five kilometres. After about 10 minutes Steven Kruijswijk begins to feel a bit sick from using his and has to excuse himself to run to the bathroom. He DNSes the day.
After the finish Jonas Vingegaard is on the phone to his partner, obviously, what’s new there. But what’s that? He’s using a prototype of the unreleased iPhone 19. Apple superfans now gather outside the team bus before and after every race, trying to glimpse any hint of new tech, completely disinterested in what happens during the hours in which the riders are not pottering around the start and finish paddocks.
Vingegaard is asked about his new iPhone in the post-race press conference. “I like it,” he says, with his typical effusiveness. “It is a good phone.”
The 2024 Tour de France squad is unveiled with a reboot of the classic 1984 Apple advert, where Dylan van Baarle throws a massive hammer into a screen featuring UCI President David Lappartient giving an ominous speech.
Meanwhile, over at the Spaceship-shaped Apple HQ in Cupertino, California, a floor of the office has been cleared and replaced with trackboards. Wout van Aert is attempting to break the Hour Record after becoming sick of coming second in every major championship he lines up for.
Like an exceedingly Belgian atom zipping around a velodromatic Large Hadron Collider, he sets a new Hour Record. His colleagues who usually work at the office have been given the afternoon off to watch the feat and after it’s done they all endorse him for ‘cycling’ on LinkedIn.
The leadership battle
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said. Team Apple’s management sit around for ages trying to figure out how this applies to them and their squad, and in the end decide to name Sepp Kuss as the new number one Grand Tour leader because he is American and that seems to be the smart thing for them to do.
Like a bike-riding iPod Nano, Kuss wins the Tour de France and then the Giro d’Italia the year after that. Once that’s done, he goes back to riding as a super-domestique for Jonas Vingegaard to help the Dane win a record-breaking six Tours de France. After that, Kuss immediately retires and returns home to Durango, Colorado, to live happily ever after. The iEnd.
Additional nonsense provided by Joe Lindsey, Kate Wagner, Jase de Puit, and Cosmo Catalano.
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