Erik Breukink to give Rabobank youngsters good Giro d'Italia advice
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Erik Breukink to give Rabobank youngsters good Giro d'Italia advice

by Bjorn Haake at 4:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia

Bauke MollemaErik Breukink, technical director with the Dutch Rabobank team, is in the position to give good advice to the young riders on his squad. Breukink's Giro debut came in his first full season in 1986, at age 22.

After turning pro in the fall of 1985, his first Giro came already in the following spring. "I was quite excited about it," Breukink said in an interview on Rabobank's website. He remembered getting the roadbook. "I had quite a scare - it was a large stack. How long is this going to last?" he wondered about the three-week event.

The experience will come in handy now. "Our youngsters will have to learn how to deal with the long days. It seems the race will never end," Breukink said. He can only hope that his riders will have a similar good start to their career than he did. After finishing his debut Giro reasonably well he won a stage in 1987 and finished third overall, after wearing the pink jersey earlier in the race. In 1988 he was second in the final general classification.

Especially the mountain hopeful  Mollema should profit from Breukink's experience. "I certainly will have one on ones with him during the race, but there aren't that many words necessary. Bauke is a realistic guy with a good eye for the race." Breukink is certain that Mollema won't get cocky. "He is looking up to the race."

Mollema is also studying the mountain stages intensely, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Breukink. "This is his terrain and his thing," Breukink said. But a three-week event always has surprises, with sickness, injury or the dreaded off-day being heavy dangers in the quest of placing well in the overall. Rabobank just hopes that Mollema won't lose his cool.

Sometimes setbacks can be good, too and Breukink hopes that Mollema's sickness just before Paris-Nice may pay off now. "He has had an extra rest period after that and has now worked several weeks specifically towards the Giro."

Mollema had a good three weeks getting him ready for the race that will be decided in the last week, in Mollema's preferred battle ground - the mountains. "I think that Bauke can do really well. Which placing he can get we will just have to see in the end. It is really a discovery race for him." Rabobank is not about too much pressure on the young riders.

That is why Breukink does not think of Mollema as the captain of the Giro team. "We don't give him a leading role and don't expect a high placing. But he does a have a free and protected position. This is also true for Pieter Weening." Rabobank is bemoaning that besides Oscar Freire, Koos Moerenhout will not race the Giro. That does not mean there aren't experienced riders around to guide the youngsters. "Mauricio Ardila and Dmitriy Kozontchuk have a lot of experience in the Giro."

Breukink admitted that giving out the race tactics is not an easy thing to do this year for the team. "Last year with Denis [Menchov] in pink it was really a bit simpler." Menchov wanted to ride the Tour de France this year and Breukink is OK with having the Russian race alongside Robert Gesink. "The Giro profile would have been ideal for Robert, but so is the Tour's. We want our strongest men to be at the Tour. With fresh legs and head."


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