On Tuesday in Hilversum, The Netherlands, Rabobank presented its lineup for 2005, with its main focuses being the Tour de France, the classics and developing young riders. The Tour has always been a focal point for Rabobank, as team director Erik Breukink explained. "Do well in the Tour the France is one of the main objectives. Both Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen have marked the Tour in their agendas. Oscar Freire wants to show his rainbow jersey in the Tour. And Michael Boogerd's program in the months of May and June will be concentrated on the Tour de France."
One of the team's new signings, Russian Denis Menchov stated simply, "My ambition is a spot within the top five of the overall in the Tour de France." Danish rider Michael Rasmussen has different ambitions: "I still haven't won a big stage, that's something I'm definitely aiming for," he said. Like Oscar Freire, the Dutch team captains Michael Boogerd and Erik Dekker have marked the classics. Dekker will try to play a leading role in the spring classics in March and April, while Boogerd will concentrate on 'his' classics: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold Race. World champion Oscar Freire will be Rabobank's third card to play in the spring classics.
Breukink further explained that the team's younger riders will be given a chance to develop in the ProTour races. "It is one of the goals of our team to lift talented riders to the next level," he said. "Whenever possible, we will bring the young riders into action in the ProTour races." That means that Pieter Weening, Joost Posthuma, Thomas Dekker, Theo Eltink, Niels Scheuneman, Roy Sentjens, Ronald Mutsaars, Jukka Vastaranta, Alexandr Kolobnev and Rory Sutherland will ride at least one of the major tours.
New to the team this year are Gerben Löwik and Niels Scheuneman (Ned), Denis Menchov and Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) and Pedro Horrillo (Spa). Five young riders made the switch from the Division III team to the pro team: Joost Posthuma (who already made the switch halfway the 2004 season), Thomas Dekker, Theo Eltink, Jukka Vastaranta and Rory Sutherland.
Keep supporting Asia
The team also intends to assist in the tsunami disaster through its "Keep supporting Asia" program. For every racing kilometre ridden by Rabobank riders, starting with Milan-San Remo, the team will donate money to the "Rabobank Medewerkersfonds", a Rabobank employees fund that will be used for development and rebuilding programs in areas affected by the tsunami and earthquake.
During victory celebrations, Rabobank riders will wear a special cap to focus the attention on their "Keep supporting Asia" program. The same appeal will appear on the frames of the bikes and the team cars. In addition, the riders will take more initiatives to raise more money, including auctions of special jerseys as worn by certain members of the Rabobank team (Freire, E. & T. Dekker, Kolobnev, Vastaranta, Boom, Groenendaal and Nys all have champion's jerseys).