Robert Gesink excited about Emilia double, looking to Lombardia
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Robert Gesink excited about Emilia double, looking to Lombardia

by Jered Gruber at 5:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Dutch talent becomes the first non-Italian to win the Giro dell'Emilia two years in a row

Robert Gesink's win yesterday high above Bologna over Garmin's Daniel Martin and Diquigiovanni's Michele Scarponi is the Dutch prodigy's second consecutive victory at the Giro dell'Emilia and puts him amongst the greats. The list of Italian legends that have managed the feat is small but significant: Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, and Gianni Motta, among others. Even more notable, Gesink is the first non-Italian in the race's 94 editions to accomplish the feat - an accomplishment that Rabobank's team site makes sure to inform readers about.

After his win, Gesink was justifiably excited about the victory, but even more, because the win put a stamp on the Dutchman's decision to stay home and pass on the World Championships in Australia, something Gesink confesses was not a call he made lightly.

"It is not easy to cancel your participation in a race where you can represent your country. That only happens once a year…That really was not an easy decision. To not participate in the only race each year for your country is hard, which makes this special. I made an informed decision and opted to focus on the fall classics in Italy. It is very good when you immediately win the first one. It is confirmation that my choice was the right one, and it gives me much satisfaction," said the 6th overall finisher at this year's Tour de France to RaboSport.

Emilia was a first for Gesink in that it was the his inaugural major race with the number one dossard on his back. The recent winner of the GP de Montreal admits that it gave him extra motivation, and with the win, extra satisfaction.

"It's the first time I've started with the number one in a race like this. That gave me a very special feeling, I must confess. And then, when you can still win, too. That makes it a very nice victory. I know that does not happen often."

Rabobank director and former racer, Frans Maassen, was a little more expansive in his assessment of the race and, in his opinion, Gesink's ride on Saturday puts amongst the sport's best.

"It's always difficult to win when you wear bib number one. Robert has made a masterpiece. He was already a great racer, but now he really runs with the bet. Today, he was the best. The final climb of the San Luca was terrible, but Robert was able to tame it."

The RaboSport site notes that, interestingly, Gesink was not amongst the pre-race favorites in Italy. That won't be the case anymore for the rider enjoying a superb 2010 campaign though. However, Maassen was not terribly excited about the rest of his team's performance.

"We were not as strong as I had hoped. Paul Martens had many problems with the jet lag after Australia. Bauke Mollema was not in top form. Steven [Kruiswijk] literally fell away [in a crash]; Ardila an Kozuntchuk are no longer in optimum condition. Robert waited until the last lap though, and then it was only man to man, and in this case, he was the best."

Looking ahead to Sunday's GP Beghelli, Maassen expects World Championship standout, Paul Martens, to shine.

"I expect Paul to be much better on Sunday. Beghelli is a course that is much better for him. Robert has announced that he will work for Paul on Sunday. Beghelli does not have quite the compelling finale of Emilia, but it is a difficult and compelling course."

The Rabobank sport director is putting hopes in Martens, but knows that Gesink is on hot form, and thus very much a possible winner, even on a slightly tamer course.

"Robert is now world class. I think Martens will be a lot better on Sunday, and maybe even Bauke [Mollema] will step up. We're not without our chances."

Gesink isn't putting much weight on Sunday's GP Beghelli though. The rider who can lay claim to three victories in 2010: the Giro dell'Emilia, the GP de Montreal, and Stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, is looking to add one more win to his tally before 2010 sounds its final notes. Gesink is aiming everything he has on next Saturday's Giro di Lombardia. With that in mind, Gesink will take a pass on Thursday's Giro del Piemonte and instead pre-ride the critical finale, complete with its new climb of the Somarno. In Gesink's opinion, defending champion, Philippe Gilbert, will be the rider to watch at the Race of the Falling Leaves, but the 24 year old Dutch star also sees a threat in Saxo Bank's Jakob Fuglsang.

"Gilbert is the favorite for sure, but today I also saw a very good Fuglsang. He rode tactically very strong. Fuglsang made sure that I had to crawl out of my shell earlier than I had planned. On the penultimate climb up, I had to go all in, and that was previously not intended."


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