Rabo banking on Ardila

By Anthony Tan in Geneva, Switzerland Rabobank's team manager for the Tour de Romandie, Adri Van...

By Anthony Tan in Geneva, Switzerland

Rabobank's team manager for the Tour de Romandie, Adri Van Houwelingen, told Cyclingnews he was in a particularly curious mood about one of his riders on the opening day of the Tour de Romandie in Geneva.

That rider was Mauricio Ardila, who joined Rabobank from Davitamon-Lotto at the end of last season. However, it's not his transfer from a Belgian to Dutch team that makes Van Houwelingen inquisitive - it's the fact that the 27 year-old Colombian had yet to race for Rabobank until yesterday, and was due to start the Giro d'Italia in an outright leadership role less than two weeks from now.

For a team to let a new rider not race a single day a fortnight before his main event seems unusual. However, Van Houwelingen cited that Ardila followed a similar build-up before last year's Tour of Italy, where he came away with three top-five finishes on some of the most difficult stages and took on a dual-leadership role with Wim Van Huffel.

"We already decided in December to do it this way, and he did almost the same way last year. He started in Niedersachsen [Rundfahrt] and immediately afterwards, he did Romandie and then the Giro, but at the end of the Giro, it was pretty hard [for him]. So we decided to scratch Niedersachsen and start here. He did some races in Colombia, among them the national championship, but this is his first race in Europe.

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