Rabobank battered but hopeful in Tour de France

Gesink, Garate amongst the six injured n Dutch team

Rabobank took to the sixth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday with six of its nine rider bandaged up. All nine made it to the end of the stage safely, which was about all that sport director Adrie van Houwelingen had hoped for.

"The day went actually reasonably well under the circumstances. This was the maximum of what we had hoped," he confessed on the team's website. "The team was battered almost collectively. We started the stage with six riders in bandages.”

Team captain Robert Gesink was one of the patients, sporting gauze wrappings on both arms. “We knew that Robert would be ok mentally, as he is so strong that way. It looks like it has gone well, though it was certainly a very painful process.”

Gesink was further handicapped by breaking a spoke and having to change bikes twice.

The worst injured is Juanma Garate, with x-rays showing a hairline fracture in his upper right arm near the shoulder. The 35-year-old is not letting that stop him, although it is slowing him down.

"The concerns about Garate were the biggest. "He finished and that's pretty gratifying," Van Houwelingen said. "We can use him well, but I think that Garate's recovery will take longer still than that of Gesink.”

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