Blanco has joined the ranks of those announcing its short list of riders for the Tour de France. Thirteen riders are competing for the nine available starting places. Perhaps the most interesting battle will be as to who fills the role of the team's captain, Robert Gesink or Bauke Mollema.
The choice of nine riders is difficult, said sports director Nico Verhoeven. “The differences between the riders are marginal. A great deal is more or less fixed as some riders focussed the whole season on the Tour de France, but it is important that the riders for the remaining spots in the selection are also in shape.”
The riders still having racing time to prove their form. “We were active in the Critérium du Dauphiné and currently we are racing in Tour du Suisse, the Tour du Luxembourg and the Ster ZLM Toer. Those races are good to monitor the form and health of the riders in the pre-selection.”
Gesink has been the team's captain at the Tour for the past few years, but in four starts has finished the race only twice, as fifth overall in 2010 and 33rd in 2011. He started the recent Giro d'Italia as captain, but after a strong start showed weakness in the mountains and abandoned after the 18th stage. He said at the time that it was “not yet clear” what his role at the Tour would be.
Mollema has had a strong season so far, winning the second stage of the Tour de Suisse and bringing in top ten finishes in a a variety of stage and one-day races. He has started in the Tour twice before, finishing 70th in 2011 and not finishing in 2012.
The team will announce the line-up at the Dutch national road race, on June 23.
The pre-selected riders are: Lars Boom, Laurens ten Dam, Robert Gesink, Tom Leezer, Bauke Mollema, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Mark Renshaw, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Bram Tankink, David Tanner, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants.