By Susan Westemeyer
Rabobank's captain Michael Boogerd announced this week that he is hanging it up the end of this season, and the team has already started its search for his replacement. And according to various Benelux newspapers, they have found that replacement -- or more than one.
According to de Telegraaf, the next Rabobank captain will be Karsten Kroon, currently under contract to CSC. "That's not so crazy," said Rabo team manager Erik Breukink. "Boogerd is a rider who you can't simply replace. However, we have a new young generation of Dutch riders. And if you're talking about the better Classics riders, then you're talking about Kroon."
Breukink was equally complimentary about Philippe Gilbert of Française des Jeux, says La Dernière Heure. "Rabobank wants Gilbert. We already tested the waters with him three years ago. [FdJ team manager] Madiot is not crazy, he knows what is in store," the paper quotes Breukink as saying. "But it is clear that a rider like Gilbert interests us, especially as a future prospect."
He praised Gilbert's stage win in the Dauphine, and added that, "Like Boogerd, he is incredibly motivated, but he is also a fast sprinter. He can easily win out of a small group. And his mentality is excellent!"
"It obviously gives me pleasure to hear that people like Breukink appreciate me," responded Gilbert. "And it is true that Rabo has approached me. Their structure is fantastic and their team is solid, with experienced people. To go to Rabobank, which is sponsored by a solid bank with much means, would constitute another approach to cycling for me. Having said that, I have a contract with Madiot through 2008. Next year at this time is the time to negotiate."