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Laurens ten Dam (Belkin)
Team hoping to impress sponsor at US stage race
Belkin Pro Cycling will looking to impress its naming sponsor at the Tour of California as the electronic consumer company have its headquarters in the American state. The race, which started in 2006, was won by Belkin's Robert Gesink in 2012 although the Dutchman, who was building his season around the race, won't be making an appearance at the race due to a heart condition.
The eight-day race starts in Sacramento and it will be the first for the team since Belkin took over naming rights prior to the 2013 Tour de France that the Dutch team will be in their green and black kit. Laurens ten Dam will lead the team at the race as he looks for a high general classification placing.
"I'm really glad to ride this race. After the Tour de France, it's my main goal. I finished sixth once, so that gives me some confidence. As a team, we'd like to give the sponsor a present," said ten Dam,
"It's a country I love. After the Tour of California, I'll stay for an altitude training camp and some vacation time. I'm going to train my butt off, but I'll fish as well. I'm even going to visit some national parks"
For Sports Director Nico Verhoeven, success at the race is a season goal and said that he expects the team to give a little bit extra to achieve its aims even with the absence of Gesink.
"This is the Tour de France of the United States and we would like to make our sponsor proud," said Verhoeven. "We'll try to do what we always do. We aim to ride an attacking and attractive race, and hopefully we can bag some results."
"We always give 100 per cent, but maybe now, as it's Belkin's home race, even just a little more."
Having won stages at Paris-Nice and the Ruta del Sol and taken line honours at the Volta Limburg Classic, 22-year-old Moreno Hofland will be the team's sprinter for the race and while he'll be up against the likes of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and serial California stage winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Verhoeven is backing his fast man.
"Moreno has proven himself in tricky stages, but he’s a good sprinter as well," said Verhoeven. "Cavendish and Sagan are the men to beat. We're going to try to do that."
Belkin for the Tour of California: Jack Bobridge, Lars Boom, Laurens ten Dam, Moreno Hofland, Tom Leezer, Nick van der Lijke, Dennis van Winden and Maarten Wynants.