Jeroen Blijlevens will join Rabobank’s WorldTour team as directeur sportif next season after a year at the helm of the women’s team. The former TVM sprinter’s move comes as part of an overhaul of the management structure of the Dutch team.
Michiel Elijzen, currently a directeur sportif at Lotto Belisol, will also join Rabobank in 2013. The team recently confirmed that both Erik Breukink and Adri van Houwelingen will finish up with the team at the end of the season while the newly-retired Grischa Niermann has agreed to join the management staff of the Rabobank Continental team in 2013.
In May of this year, former Rabobank general manager Theo de Rooy told Volksrant that doping had been tolerated at the team at least up to 2007. De Rooy left the team that year in the wake of the Michael Rasmussen affair at the Tour de France.
The new season will see modifications in both the personnel and the structure of Rabobank’s management team. An important part in this next stage will see sports directors working more closely alongside trainers and their riders, with a primary focus on the technical aspects of training.
“The limits of the current guidance model within our team have been reached. We are breaking up with the traditional working methods in cycling. Hence the restructuring towards the standards of the future,” says Rabosport’s General Manager Harold Knebel.
“Primarily, we stopped focussing on foreign top riders [after 2008]. After that, the available Dutch talent had time to mature and grow under the motto Time for Talent. Now it’s time to push our ambition, which was the basis of this project, to the next phase: the Talent to the Top, the Team to the Top.”
Knebel is adamant that every aspect of each team needs to be innovated, if they are to continue to bring ‘home’ talent to the top of the cycling pyramid. The General Manager believes the focus must continue to be base around fostering Dutch riders, through a more scientific and measured approach.
“This will lead to a whole new and different way of thinking than which we are used to now. Every position within the team will be involved in this and it requires maximum dedication from all involved. This demands a lot from all the people in the team.
"We looked carefully at how we could make a step forward. How we can bring the cycling plan to a higher level. We are convinced that this will result in the full development of the talents we already have,” said Knebel.