Robert Gesink (Rabobank) put in a solid performance on stage 1 of the Tour of Murcia, finishing 7th, just under a minute behind stage winner and race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team). It was further confirmation that although the Dutchman has yet to hit top form, he is well on his way to a full recovery from a broken leg that wrecked the tail end of his 2011 season.
Gesink was unable to follow all but a handful of climbers on the Cat 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo and set his own tempo, riding with Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez for the first few sections. Sunday’s second and final stage is a 12.3 individual time trail, giving Gesink another chance to gauge his form.
“My form is improving all the team and it’s a surprise every day that I’m able to do so much with my legs,” he told Cyclingnews after stage 1.
“I was 7th and I’m happy that I can ride in the peloton and go with the best on the climbs again. I know that this is only Murcia and it’s also not my biggest goal of the season but I’m happy with what I’m doing and I’m not complaining abut the situation.”
Gesink is embarking on perhaps his most important season to date. On the one hand he will be looking to demonstrate that his 6th place finishes in the Vuelta in 2009 and the Tour de France in 2010 were stepping stones towards a tilt at overall titles in both.
Along with grand tour pressures, the 25-year-old will also be looking to perform at the Worlds later this year, with the course located in Valkenburg, Holland.
“It’s a huge goal. I’ll do the Vuelta before, which is also a big goal, but the Worlds in my own country is a huge prospect. For the Dutch guys you hear your name being screamed during the entire race at Amstel Gold Race so you can only imagine what it will be like at the Worlds. Also the parcours suits me pretty well.”