Former three-time Dutch national champion Michael Boogerd has launched a withering attack on the management structure at Rabobank, stating that two of its riders - Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema - are unlikely to fulfil their Tour de France ambitions if they stay with the Dutch outfit.
Boogerd, who won two stages at the Tour during his career on the road and finished fifth overall in 1998, says his two compatriots are stuck in a comfort zone at Rabobank and implied that they may have to look elsewhere if they are to further their careers at the highest level. Boogerd rode with Rabobank from 1996, when they first entered cycling as a team sponsor, to his retirement in 2007.
Gesink and Mollema, who are both 25, have each made the headlines in the last 12 months. Only a few weeks ago Gesink won the Amgen Tour of California, while last season Mollema won the points jersey at the Vuelta a Espana, finished fourth overall and was named Dutch road cyclist of the year. Both men signed new contracts with Rabobank in January.
"The Tour de France is approaching fast," Boogerd said in his latest column for Telesport. "Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema are two riders who have already proven their status and I am convinced of their abilities. But where I have my doubts is whether they are in the right environment to perform well in the Tour. Simply put, they might be on the wrong team.
"Too often at Rabobank it seems that the talented riders can do no wrong. Everything is done with a cloak of charity and everything is done as an investment in the future - there are always mitigating circumstances put forward. These boys have tons of Euros. From my own experience I know how important it is that you are constantly reminded of your responsibilities as leader by those above you in the team. Let me state that I am a fan of Gesink. But in my eyes he shines too much in the races where there is little pressure on him."