Rabobank boss declares that the orange and blue team’s “family is now complete”
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Rabobank boss declares that the orange and blue team’s “family is now complete”

by Ben Atkins at 6:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Women’s team presented in Utrecht alongside WorldTour, Continental and Offroad rosters

rabobankRabobank team manager Harold Knebel declared that “The Rabobank family is now complete” at the Dutch team’s presentation in Utrecht, Netherlands. As many as 72 athletes at once, from the WorldTour, Continental, Offroad and Women’s teams, were stood on the stage of the auditorium of the Dutch bank’s administrative centre.

"I have great faith in the coming season,” Knebel continued, “which of course has extra shine because it is an Olympic year, and because the World championships is at home.

“As for the [WorldTour] team a top five ranking remains our goal for 2012," he added.

The under-23 Continental team was to take the stage first, followed by the Offroad team, with its cyclocross contingent including US champion Katie Compton. The new twelve-rider strong Women’s team was next, with the much-rumoured inclusion of Iris Slappendel, the first of the Garmin-Cervélo team to secure a contract elsewhere.

The WorldTour team was last to take the stage in groups of six at a time.

As part of the presentation the team’s Tour de France hope Robert Gesink pressed a button to officially launch an English version of the team’s website, Rabosport.com. The 25-year-old crashed badly while out training in September, fracturing his femur, and spoke about his return to fitness.

"The recovery is going well,” he said. “I've already sat on the bike. Last Sunday, I even four had hours on my cross bike; it feels to me like it’s a milestone in the recovery."

Hardly surprisingly, Gesink has two big targets for the 2012 season: "I’m going for the Tour and the World championships," he said.

Marianne Vos is the undoubted star of the Women’s team, whose career rainbow jersey total of seven dwarfs that of the other 71 riders on the stage put together. The 24-year-old World number one’s main target for 2012 will undoubtedly be to go five places better than her sixth place in Beijing 2008; with the World championships in Limburg, Netherlands, though she will also be aiming to exorcise the spectre of her five successive silver medals.

"In an Olympic year it is obvious that I have my arrows aimed at London,” she said. “But 2012 is also special because of the World championships at home. The team time trial for trade teams in the World championships is obviously a goal for the Rabo-women.”

As part of the team’s first get together, in Valkenberg last week, the team was able to explore the team time trial course. "It is a tough course with tricky turns,” she explained. “I think it's difficult to find your rhythm."

There are just three changes to the line up of WorldTour team, with three-time World champion Oscar Freire leaving for Katusha, and Sebastian Langeveld and Pieter Weening joining the new GreenEDGE team.

The departing riders are replaced by Mark Renshaw – who, after leading out Mark Cavendish to such success will be looking to sprint for himself – along with Jetse Bol and Wilco Kelderman, who both make the step up from the Continental team.

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