Rabobank will return once more to the Amgen Tour of California, this time with climber Robert Gesink at the helm. The Dutch climber skipped the past two editions, but in each of his three prior participations, Gesink won the best young rider's jersey (2007, 2008 and 2009) and won stage 3 in San Jose in 2008.
Gesink will travel to the USA in May along with a strong supporting team that will include Laurens Ten Dam, Maarten Tjallingii and Bram Tankink for the climbs, Luis Leon Sanchez, Michael Matthews and Graeme Brown for the flatter stages and young rider Wilco Kelderman.
The eight-day UCI 2.HC race starts on May 13 in Santa Rosa, and concludes in Los Angeles on May 20. Gesink is looking forward to a course that includes two summit finishes - Big Bear and Mt. Baldy - and a new time trial in Bakersfield.
"It is a beautiful and challenging course, big crowds, fun and enthusiastic people, who make for a very special atmosphere. I'm very happy. It is an excellent choice for me personally and also for the sponsor's US interests."
The inclusion of the American race is a departure from his training plan in the previous two years, where Gesink prepared for the Tour de France in the Tour de Suisse or Critérium du Dauphiné and took time out to train in May after the Ardennes Classics.
"I would go to Switzerland after the Classics, but eventually we decided the day after Liege-Bastogne-Liege travel to California. A few days rest and then do I get a two-week altitude training. Then the Tour of California before the leaving.
Gesink thinks the increased difficulty of the course makes it better preparation for the Tour de France. "The Tour of California is gaining status and is a little harder every year. It has become a really tough race. It's a nice to combine the race with pleasure. I like to drive in North America and have vacationed there. I feel personally and as a cyclist very well at home. "
The 25-year-old is still trying to get back to his best after suffering a fractured femur last September in a training crash.