Rabo-Liv Woman Cycling presented their 2016 team at the Hotel and Conference Centre Papendal, Netherlands, on Wednesday. It will be an interesting season ahead with the return of Marianne Vos, pursuits of the inaugural Women’s WorldTour and the Olympic medals, and the search for a title sponsor to replace Rabobank.
“We’re dealing with the Olympics, but as a team we also have our own focus,” said team manager Koos Moerenhout on the Rabo-Liv website. “The first WorldTour offers a wonderful platform for women’s cycling, which is why we want to present ourselves there. We’ll also be cycling in the United States this season, in the Tour of California.”
Last year, Rabo Liv ended the season as the top ranked elite women’s team in the world. Vos did not race due to various injuries and ill health, but her teammates Anna van der Breggen finished the series in first place, Lucinda Brand 10th, Katarzyna Niewiadoma 12th and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot 18th in the standings.
The 2016 team includes former world champions on the road in Vos and Ferrand-Prevot along with Giro Rosa winner Van der Breggen, Brand, Shara Gillow, Thalita de Jong, Roxane Knetemann, Jeanne Korevaar, Anouska Koster, Kasia Niewiadoma, Moniek Tenniglo and Yara Kastelijn, an 18-year-old Dutch rider who will begin with the team in March.
Rabobank confirmed in December that they would end their sponsorship of Rabo Liv at the end of the 2016 season. Moerenhout expressed his confidence in the team’s ability to secure new financial backing.
“Rabobank will indeed cease to be our main sponsor at the end of the season, but that certainly does not mean the end of the team,” he said. “We have a strong formation with cyclists who repeatedly are able to achieve great results. Moreover, the organisation of the Rabo Team Liv certainly stands firm. We have every confidence that we will succeed to also continue after 2016."
Vos feeling great
Vos spoke at the presentation, reassuring her fans that she is back on track and feeling well after taking time off to recover from a hamstring injury and over-training last season. She is anticipating a full comeback this spring with a primary goal of competing in the Olympic Games in Rio.
“I’m in training and physically I feel great. Each week I find myself being able to handle more and more. I feel like a cyclist again and look forward to being part of the peloton,” Vos said.
“Expectations are that come spring I can make my full comeback. Although an exact date hasn’t been decided yet. Together with the trainers I’ll choose the races. Either way, my program will be completely dedicated to the Olympic road race in Rio.”
All goals point to the Olympics
Vos and her teammates Ferrand-Prevot and Van der Breggen sat down for an interview on Periscope following the team presentation. All three riders expressed their interest in competing in the Olympic Games for the gold medal.
Van der Breggen previewed the coarse with the Dutch national team last fall and is targeting both the road race and the time trial. "We have already been exploring [the courses]. The courses are challenging and pretty heavy. But that is kind of my thing."
Ferrand-Prevot, a multi-discipline specialist in cycling, is looking to produce medals for France in the road race and mountain bike events. “This season I’m hoping to perform well both with mountain bike as well as on the road. The program of Rio de Janeiro makes it possible to focus on both.”
Ferrand-Prevot was also quick to point out that there is no inter-team rivalries at Rabo Liv despite the fact that their three top riders are vying for the same gold medal at the Olympics. “We are on one team and we have a great atmosphere on the team so it isn’t only about us. We are one team and everyone brings something to the team,” she said in the Periscope interview.
“This is now my fifth year in Rabo. When I started in 2012 I was young and my idol was Marianne, so I wanted to do the same as Marianne and try to learn. Then Anna came [to the team] and it was nice to be able to learn inside the races, it was a different way to race. I’ve learned a lot of things from them.”
Rabo Liv was presented on stage in the Netherlands, sporting their traditional Dutch orange and white colours. Check out the full gallery of the team presentation.