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.