LottoNL-Jumbo will line up at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco with the intention of delivering George Bennett to a high general classification finish. The New Zealander was forced to withdraw from the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya on stage 5 due to a knee injury but Bennett is confident of a return to form in the Basque country.
"There's still some irritation, but my knee is ok," Bennett said. "Since Catalunya, I passed many days trying to heal my knee, but I'm back on the bike doing easy rides. My general condition is completely unknown to me. For sure, I will know a lot more after the first days. If I don't lose too much time there, I can be strong enough by the decisive stages."
The 24-year-old debuted for the team at the Tour Down Under in January, finishing tenth overall and fourth in the young rider classification. Bennett then made his 2015 European debut at two French one-day races in February before lining up at Paris-Nice, finishing 58th overall overall, but is hoping the team leadership will see him return to his January level of form.
"It's always a special opportunity to lead a team, and I'll fight as much as I can for the boys," Bennett continued. "I've done the training. Let's see how much the injury has set me back."
Supporting Bennett will be six Dutch riders and a sole Belgian, Kevin de Weert, while Mike Teunissen will make his WorldTour debut at the race after a broken collarbone in December delayed the start to his season.
Teunissen is one of several LottoNL-Jumbo riders who will start the race unsure of their condition and therefore sport director Frans Maassen isn't setting the bar too high for them to secure results, preferring to see how the race plays out.
"We will find out how good we are during the week. Of course, we want to achieve results, but for some, it's going to be too difficult," Maassen said.
LottoNL-Jumbo for Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco: George Bennett, Brian Bulgac, Martijn Keizer, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Nick van der Lijke, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen and Kevin de Weert.