If there’s one thing you can rely on Jumbo-Visma for, it’s keeping the news cycle ticking over. Whether they’re ensconced in inter-team turmoil, serving up terrible cakes, poaching contracted riders, or auctioning off their fleet of bikes, the Dutch superteam is never far from setting keyboards clattering.
Now, in the dwindling days of its most successful season yet, they’ve come through with the goods again. According to Wielerflits, the team is pondering a name change – or rather, ANOTHER name change, separate to the previously established 2024 sponsorship switch to Visma-Lease-a-Bike. The very normal and not at all weird name they’ve apparently settled on is – wait for it – ‘Yellow B’.
The kernel of this proposed shift comes from Jumbo-Visma’s desire to build a distinct identity under a permanent name, immune to sponsorship changes: kind of like Soudal-Quick Step’s ‘Wolfpack’ moniker, but with less of a creepy vibe and actually registered with the UCI as the main deal, not a nickname.
On one hand, it’s not a terrible idea – the fickleness of professional cycling’s sponsorship model means that teams often change names and kits from one year to the next, which hampers merchandising opportunities. It also makes the sport more difficult for new fans to follow – you have to be pretty clued in to figure out what’s going on when, for example, both Deceuninck and Soudal have been naming right sponsors of two different teams each in the past two seasons.
On the other hand: part of what a naming rights sponsor is paying for is the naming part, potentially eroding a team’s ability to sign the big sponsors if they’re not constantly getting namechecked in commentary and on jerseys.
According to team DS Merijn Zeeman, the team is busily workshopping how to balance these two competing problems, with the possibility of the sponsor being worked into the name (perhaps as a variation along the lines of ‘Yellow B presented by Visma’). “That is exactly what Richard Plugge is working on,” Zeeman told Masters Magazine of the name conundrum. “A matter of fine-tuning too, because Visma, for example, will always be in our name. But you are going to see more and more that we are moving in this direction.”
As for the ‘Yellow B’ name – which Wielerflits has confirmed via ‘multiple sources’ and has even been spotted on a leaked kit mockup – it is apparently a twist on the team’s mutating nickname. The team’s longstanding yellow and black colour scheme has often led to the team being likened to bees, or – in Richie Porte’s parlance – the ‘killer wasps’ of the peloton. A mash-up of the two, ‘killer bees’, is also common parlance. From there, Jumbo-Visma’s management have boldly made the leap to ‘Yellow B’.
Does it read like an unholy union of yellow fever and hepatitis B? Sure, a bit. Does it sound like it could be an artificial food dye banned in most western countries because it’s carcinogenic? Also yes. Is a ‘B’, yellow or otherwise, the same thing as the popular flying insect? No, it comes between A and C, has two less letters and is not a living creature. If the letter B is supposed to be suggestive of the aforementioned flying insect, then why have they gone with a singular rather than a plural, seeing as they’re a team of individuals rather than a single monolithic, buzzy entity? Why not just call the team the ‘Yellow Bees’, or ‘The Bees’, or ‘the Buzzy Bois’ or, say, anything else? And if the team do identify as bees, why do they also have an officially-licensed coffee blend called ‘Racing Wasps’? Can we throw hornets in the mix too, just to get a trifecta of stripy, stingy things that a Dutch cycling team thinks they might be a bit like? Most pressingly, why do so many Jumbo-Visma moves have to be just a little bit weird?
These are not all questions that we have answers to, but with the festive season nearly upon us there’s plenty of time to mull this latest fascinating development. A colour; a letter. A cycling team so dominant that they can probably get away with calling themselves whatever they want, no matter how daft.
What did you think of this story?