Robert Gesink was nervous about returning to racing at the Flèche Wallonne this week. With only two days of racing since last September, it felt "a bit like it was my first race," the LottoNL-Jumbo rider said, but added, "cycling is fun again."
He is now looking to the Tour de France, which is his "main goal" for the year. His next race will be the Tour de Romandie. "I've had no spring but later Romandie and the Tour of Switzerland or the Dauphiné, there are plenty of opportunities to work towards the Tour," he told telesport.nl.
Gesink withdrew from the Vuelta a España on September 11 when his pregnant girlfriend was hospitalised, ending his season. He started the 2015 season at the Tour of Algarve but withdrew after the second stage when his infant son went to hospital. He was then scheduled to ride the Volta a Catalunya, but knee problems forced him out of that race.
At the Flèche Wallonne, he finished 25th, only 23 seconds behind the winner. He stayed with the favourites until the base of the final climb up the Mur de Huy. "At the foot I was still there, not bad for the first time."
This gave him confidence for the upcoming races. "With a good feeling yeah, this could give a boost."
His absence has also been difficult for his team. "We had to ride too many races without a leader. And no results. I'm glad he's back," said team manager Merijn Zeeman. "Robert will have to grow back into his role as leader. He must experience what it is to ride in a pack."