LottoNL-Jumbo have announced its team for Milan-San Remo containing a mix of experience and youth with debutant Moreno Hofland to be a protected rider at the 293km race. Lars Petter Nordhaug was the team's best finisher last year in 15th pace but the Norwegian has moved back to Team Sky this year. Tom Leezer and Maarten Tjallingii were the next best performers in 2014 and have both been named for the longest monument on the calendar. Rick Flens, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner also retain their places for consecutive years. Bert-Jan Lindeman is the other rider to make his debut at the race this year.
"We don’t have favourites, but with Moreno Hofland, Bert-Jan Lindeman and Paul Martens, we have three riders who should be able to compete with the best," said sports director Erik Dekker. "For Moreno and Bert-Jan, it will be the first time that they participate in this classic. That's why we will make an extended reconnaissance on Thursday. We will try to focus on the future with them. In training, it's always easier to explore a race than it is in the race itself. You look at it in a very different way. That can be useful for the young guys."
With showers predicted for Saturday and and overcast weather for Sunday, it's unlikely the freezing conditions of two years ago will make a reappearance which is pleasing news for Dekker.
"They predict good weather for this weekend," Dekker said. "That will help this edition of Milano-Sanremo to be a traditional one. I think that a group of 50 to 100 riders will arrive at the foot of the Poggio. We have to try to be there, too."
Explaining that 23-year-old Hofland has the characteristics of a potential winner, Dekker emphasised the need for the team to protect and position him in the finale.
"Moreno is able to play a big role in this race in the future," Dekker said. "He can try to do that already this year. If there are chances for us this year, we surely want to take them. The only way we can enforce that is to bring Moreno, Bert-Jan and Paul in a good position for the final."
Hofland enters the race with less than ideal preparation, although he was starting to find form at Paris-Nice with three top-ten finishes before withdrawing from the race.
"I didn't start Paris-Nice in form," Hofland said. "I improved during that race, but after the fifth stage, I didn't have anything left at all. I think it was a good decision to go home after that day. I feel that I recovered a little better afterwards and those extra days off feel like a super compensation."
Reiterating Dekker's comments, Hofland added the importance of being in the front group at the base of the Poggio if he wants to challenge for victory.
"I hope that I’m good enough to cross the Poggio with the first group," Hofland said. "I will talk with Paul Martens a lot about that. He is an experienced rider, who has competed in the front in Milano-Sanremo in the last years. He can help me.”
LottoNL-Jumbo for Milan-San Remo: Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Tom Leezer, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner.
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