Robert Gesink (Rabobank) has yet to reach the form that carried him to top six places at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España but the Dutchman is confident that his beefed-up race programme will set him straight before this year’s Tour de France.
Gesink will close out his spring campaign at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, and despite a mediocre showing in the Ardennes, he's still pleased with how his season has developed. Having broken his leg in a training crash towards the end of last season, there's certainly room for optimism, both for a strong showing in Liège and for the Tour de France in July.
"My form is getting better and better but I've noticed that it's still a bit early to have great expectations. I'm getting there and I'm happy with it at the moment but my top level is still not high enough to compete with the best, but it's only been few months since I could walk again. So for now everyone is happy with how it goes but it's still early," he told Cyclingnews.
Rabobank will be led by Bauke Mollema on Sunday but Gesink will be hoping to last the pace, and protect the team's leader for as long as possible.
"I think Mollema is in good shape at the moment so he's a guy from the team we can expect in the final. My form wasn't enough in Amstel, it was a bit better in Flèche so I hope to be better again in Liège but I don't know what I can do or where I can be in the race tomorrow. Maybe I can help out a bit and be there in the final."
The Tour de France is still Gesink's major objective for the season. He was sixth in 2010 but a series of crashes ruled him out of competing at the highest level last July. He still completed the Tour, dragging his bruised and broken body through the mountains to finish just outside the top 30.
With his recovery from his broken leg having been steady rather than spectacular, Gesink believes he still has time to improve before this year’s Tour. Having added the Tour of California to his race programme, he will hope that a stint of stateside action and the Tour de Suisse will give him the necessary racing miles.
"It should be enough time. We decided on doing to the Tour of California, so now I have another race. That's good, I can use the hard racing and I need that. I think the Tour won't be problems and I'm looking forward to racing a bit more and getting to the level I was at in the past."