Team Rabobank is looking for more aggressiveness from its riders in 2009, after an unsatisfactory 2008 season. "In the coming year we want to attack more, take more initiative," team manager Harold Knebel said at the team's presentation in Rotterdam.
Team captain Denis Menchov will this year again ride the Giro d'Italia as preparation for the Tour de France. Between the two Grand Tours the Russian will pre-ride some of the Tour's climbs, he announced.
Last year's sensation, Robert Gesink, 22, who finished seventh overall in the Vuelta a España, is scheduled to make his Tour de France debut this year. He is also expected to scout out the Tour climbs, although not necessarily with Menchov.
The team features six newcomers, four of whom are Dutch, as the team continues to strive for its Dutch image. It has a total of 30 riders, 18 of whom are Dutch. The new riders this year are Nick Nuyens (Belgium) and Juan Manuel Garate (Spain), and Dutch riders Lars Boom, Stef Clement, Tom Stamsnijder and Maarten Tjallingii.
Australia's Graeme Brown believes the new faces around Rabobank will give returning riders like himself a boost for the season.
"We've got a lot of new faces," he noted. "I've said before that it feels like a new team – we've got a lot of new riders, new bikes, a few new staff members.
"They told me that the two things they're going for are riding the races aggressively – to win – and purity," he added. "They're the two words that they're going to run the season by."
Sprinter Oscar Freire's priorities are Milano-Sanremo and the Tour de France, but at the top of his wish list is a fourth World championship title. "The triumph in the World Championships is the most important title," he told sportweek.nl.
The Spaniard is also the driving force behind a new initiative. The team will publish on its website how often its racers undergo doping controls. The team's riders' council requested the publication, according to Knebel. "There are many rumours about riders and team about how often they are or are not controlled," he said. "We want to give clarity and hope that others will follow our example."
The Rabobank ProTour team for 2009: Mauricio Ardila (Col), Lars Boom (Ned), Graeme Brown (Aus), Stef Clement (Ned), Bram de Groot (Ned), Marc de Maar (Ned), Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa), Rick Flens (Ned), Oscar Freire (Spa), Juan Manuel Garate (Spa), Robert Gesink (Ned), Mathew Hayman (Aus), Pedro Horrillo (Spa), Dmitriy Kozontchouk (Rus), Sebastian Langeveld (Ned), Tom Leezer (Ned), Paul Martens (Ger), Denis Menchov (Rus), Koos Moerenhout (Ned), Bauke Mollema (Ned), Grischa Niermann (Ger), Nick Nuyens (Bel), Joost Posthuma (Ned), Kai Reus (Ned), Tom Stamsnijder (Ned), Bram Tankink (Ned), Laurens ten Dam (Ned), Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), Jos van Emden (Ned) and Pieter Weening (Ned).
Team management and Directeurs Sportifs: Harold Knebel (Ned), Erik Breukink (Ned), Frans Maasen (Ned), Jan Boven (Ned), Adri van Houwelingen (Ned) and Erik Dekker (Ned).