Rabobank hopeful ahead of Flanders
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rabobank hopeful ahead of Flanders

by Jered Gruber at 5:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics

In the finale of the E3 Prijs Harelbeke on Saturday, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, and Juan Antonio Flecha stole the show. Behind, Filippo Pozzato sprinted to 4th place out of the chasing group of six. It was a sterling four-some atop the leaderboard, but right behind the quartet of superstars was a lot of orange. Rabobank was left out of the elite selection in the crucial moments of the race, but still managed to put three riders in the crucial chase behind the Cancellara, Boonen, and Flecha group.

Lars Boom (24), Sebastien Langeveld (25), and Paul Martens (26) all made the second group and helped drive it all the way home. None of the three were able to really push Pozzato's limits in the sprint, but their three out of six presence in the group was noteworthy.

Team director, Erik Dekker, was pleased with his squad's performance on Saturday: "It was a good performance by the team...and we can be satisfied. Now, we wait to see all the pieces fall into place. It seems to me that we're in a wonderful spot for next week."

2nd place at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne in 2008, Sebastian Langeveld, commented on his performance and the rest of his teammates' as they head into one of the most important weeks of the year: "[At the E3] the strongest riders always ride away. But we still tried. We worked well together in an attempt to bring them back. Collectively, we rode strong."

Langeveld is hopeful for the Dutch team's chances at Vlaanderens Mooiste, "especially considering the form that Lars Boom, Nick Nuyens,and I now have."

Langeveld's final comment is interesting considering that he left out the third rider in his group on Saturday: Paul Martens. The young German rider has blossomed so far in 2010 with strong rides at Milan-Sanremo and now the E3. Martens was Oscar Freire's only remaining teammate in the lead group after the Poggio a week ago. He, however, will not be taking the start in Brugge next Sunday. There has been no talk anywhere as to why he was left off the roster, though it's hard to imagine that he's not capable of a solid performance. He showed himself able to endure an exceedingly long and difficult race at Milan-Sanremo, then acquitted himself more than well over some of Flanders' most difficult cobbles on Saturday.

It wasn't all slaps on the back and high fives for the Orangemen though: Rabobank's top classics hope, Nick Nuyens, had an abysmal go of it on Saturday. He touched pavement on three separate occasions and summed up his day as, "Frustrating." Nuyens had injuries over most of his body following his crash-marred E3. He confirmed being hurt, "especially on my sternum, right thigh, and right hip - all have received heavy blows...I won't start in Gent-Wevelgem, but I do not expect my participation in the Tour of Flanders to be in question."

And finally, for a light-hearted conclusion: what would a win like La Primavera be without that forgotten, joking bet beforehand? For Rabobank, it was agreed that if anyone won Milan-Sanremo, the team present for the race would all shave their heads. Apparently, many had assumed this was all in jest. These things always are, except the times they're not: Oscar Freire greeted his teammates with clippers at the Holiday Inn in Gent last night before Gent-Wevelgem to make sure his boys got the reward they deserved for his third Milan-Sanremo.


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