Robert Gesink plans on returning to the Tour de France in 2014 to target the overall classification as one of Belkin Pro Cycling's captains. The 27-year old Dutchman also intends to contest the Amgen Tour of California next year, a race he won in 2012, as well as the Amstel Gold Race.
Gesink started this year's Giro d'Italia as captain of the, then, Blanco Procycling Team. He had to abandon the race when he fell ill in the last week. The Giro won't be on his calendar for next season, however. The Belkin rider, who has finished in the top-10 of a Grand Tour four times, instead has opted for the Tour de France as his main goal of the season.
"I am happy with the Tour de France course for next year. The cobbles will be tricky but we have to get across them. I did well in 2010 [Gesink was 5th in the overall that year]. Furthermore there are a few nice uphill finishes and only one long time trial. When I see this course, I am looking forward to riding it with the overall classification as a goal," he said after the Tour de France presentation last month.
This year Gesink rode the Tour de France in support of team captain Bauke Mollema and finished 26th in the general classification. Gesink's only victory of the season came in the Grand Prix of Québec where he beat Arthur Vichot and Greg van Avermaet.
“It [the Giro] wasn’t what I expected,” Gesink told Cyclingnews during the Tour of Beijing. “I went full gas for the GC and I got ill. Then, at the Tour, I wasn’t as fresh as I thought, so I worked for the team. That was a bit of a disappointment but, in the end, Québec made up for a lot of less nice moments.”
Gesink's 2014 season starts at the Tour Down Under. "I always do well far away from home," he joked at his fan club day yesterday. After that Gesink will ride the Tour of Oman, a race he won in 2011. His first real target of the year is Tirreno-Adriatico. The Amstel Gold Race is also on the provisional calendar.
With California-based Belkin as sponsor, the Dutch outfit will ride the Tour of California in 2014. Gesink won the race in 2012 and plans on returning to the United States. Before the Tour de France Gesink wants to ride both the road race and time trial at the Dutch championships.
The Vuelta, a race where he finished in the top-10 overall three times, is an option but the main goal of Gesink's 2014 season is the Tour de France.