Mollema, Gesink to chase Tour de France success, Kelderman targeting strong Giro d’Italia
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Mollema, Gesink to chase Tour de France success, Kelderman targeting strong Giro d’Italia

by VeloNation Press at 5:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Belkin’s other top riders list Classics and sprint goals on day of team launch

Bauke MollemaHaving finished a strong sixth overall in the Tour de France in 2013, Bauke Mollema had made clear that the same race will be the priority for him this season and that he hopes to finish higher again in the general classification.

The Dutchman and his compatriot Robert Gesink have both said that they will target the event in 2014, with Gesink deciding to focus again on the race after some frustrations in the past.

“My goal for 2014 is to do better than last year. I gained a lot of experience in 2013. I'm a bit older and stronger now and I believe I can make another step,” said Mollema at the Team Belkin launch held earlier today in the Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, the Netherlands.

“Riders will watch me but that's only normal. However, not much will change. I still want to get the best out of myself in every race that I ride.”

Gesink rode the Tour last year but was below par and finished back in 26th place. However he finished fifth in 2010, the last time the race had a cobbled stage, and has also finished in the top seven of the Vuelta a España three times.

He’s satisfied with the 2014 Tour route and is happy to focus on that again rather than ride the Giro. Before then, he’ll try to win a top US event.

“The Tour de France and the Tour of California are my two biggest goals in 2014,” he said. “I hope that I can win again in California like I did in 2012. It is a home race for the team now. I know it won't be easy, but I've done pretty well overseas the last few years.

“In the Tour, I hope to ride high in the GC. Along with Bauke, I will captain the team. I think it is good to have two leaders because you never know what will happen along the way. I know I can place in the top ten and maybe a little better.”

Mollema has decided to follow a similar buildup to last year. “My programme is similar to last year's, although this time I will ride Milan-San Remo,” he said. “I like the new final because it's a bit harder. When I heard of it I thought, 'I must do this.' It combines well with the Tirreno-Adriatico.”

Also looking forward to the Grand Tours is Wilco Kelderman, although he will focus his attention on the Italian event. He was seventeenth last year in what was his debut pro season and, at 22 years of age, has a lot of promise for the future.

“The Giro is important to me. I'm allowed to ride for myself and I'm super excited,” he said, looking forward to the challenge. “I learned a lot last year. I hope to be a bit stronger this year. I would like to get in the mix for a top ten.

“I hope to do well in the fight for the white jersey, as well, but I know it will be difficult as Nairo Quintana will be in Italy. During the rest of the season, I hope to do well in every race that I ride. I will ride fewer races than last year.”

Classic and sprint focus:


The team will of course target other races, and has different riders who will aim for these. The Classics and sprint stages are also areas that it can succeed in, and some of the riders who will aim to do so laid out their targets today.

Lars Boom“The Classics are my big goal,” said Lars Boom, who finished sixth in the 2012 Paris-Roubaix. “The period between the E3 Harelbeke and Paris-Roubaix is very important for me. We're going to prepare for the Classics with a special training camp. I'm looking forward to it as we have new materials and it is good to feel how they respond ahead of the races.

“I hope to ride the Tour de France again, as well. The Classic riders had a major role in last year's race and with this year's cobbled stage I hope to be of value again.”

Sep Vanmarcke had a fine Classics debut with the team, finishing second in Paris-Roubaix in what was his first spring after moving over from the Garmin-Sharp team. He’s underlined the same period of the year as his big focus for 2014.

“The spring is most important time of the year for me. In races like E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, I hope to fight for the win,” he said. “Of course, another win in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad would be great as well. I'm really looking forward to Flanders. The new route will make up for an open race like in the past.

"Hopefully, I will be at the Tour de France again as well. For a rider like me there usually aren't many opportunities for a stage win, but with this year's cobbled stage, I think I have a chance. I also would love to help the team leaders again. After last year's event the team knows what I'm capable of.”

Once again the team’s sprint hopes will rest on the shoulders of riders like Theo Bos. He shared the sprint billing with Mark Renshaw in the past two seasons, but the Australian has moved to the Omega Pharma Quick Step team. Bos is determined to use the opportunity to take more victories.

“I hope to win a lot of races this year, just like last year, from Qatar to Langkawi and from the Tour of Belgium to the Tour of Turkey,” he said. “Together with the team, I want to win stages in all those races. I won't ride as many races as last year, normally that works out well because it gives me enough time to train.

“I want to focus on myself and my own development, although it remains very nice to sprint against top sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel, and to see where you stand. Maybe I can beat them again like in last year's Ster ZLM Toer.”

The team will have similar kit to last year, although it will be made by Santini and they will be astride Bianchi – rather than Giant – bicycles.

General manager Richard Plugge said that the team was aiming for a strong showing in the Tour de France. It didn’t win a stage in 2013 but hopes to rectify that this time round, as well as challenge again for the general classification.

He also recognises that America is important due to main sponsor Belkin’s origins. “The Tour of California, a home race for us, is high up on our wish list this year. It would be great to put on a nice show there in the backyard of Belkin owner Chet Pipkin. Two years ago, Robert Gesink won the race.

“We want to finish highly in the WorldTour rankings by the end of the year,” he continued. “We'll particularly focus on the spring Classics, with Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke, and the Grand Tours. We have Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam who can do well there. We also hope that Steven Kruijswijk can reach his top level again after his surgery and can make the next step.”

Also see:


Video of today's presentation:

Watch video interviews with team riders below:

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