Monday's stage two of Paris-Nice proved to be treacherous for many riders, including those of Rabobank who came to the French stage race with an eye on the general classification. As echelons formed in the windy conditions on the road to Orleans, only one Rabobank rider made it into the decisive break towards the end of the stage that made the rest of the bunch lose more than two minutes overall: Dennis van Winden. But he, too, was unlucky and crashed, finally finishing in 168th place.
It thus seems unlikely that Luis Léon Sanchez, who is particularly fond of this race, and his teammates will be able to achieve a high GC result in Nice this week-end, and the team was disappointed not to have made the decisive move on Monday afternoon. Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw was also denied his battle against Tom Boonen or Marcel Kittel in the final sprint, won by the Belgian.
"It's quiet on the bus now. But we knew this could happen and the riders also knew it. And then, such a breakaway isn't created in one instant. And when it went up the road, we only had Dennis in the first group, but he fell. Together with other riders that had also crashed, he tried to come back, but it wasn't possible," commented team director Nico Verhoeven, and there were no excuses.
"Mentally, we've taken a blow as a team," he continued. "We can forget about the GC now - what a shame it's so early in the race, too. But when you have ambitions for the overall, you have to be in the first group. But I don't have to tell the guys this, they know perfectly well themselves that this is not for what they've come here."
A change of team tactics for the rest of the race seems logical, and it is likely that Rabobank riders will be trying to go on the attack over the next few days. Bauke Mollema, the best-placed rider on the team, is almost three minutes adrift of race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
"We have to concentrate on daily success now," Verhoeven continued. "Stage wins won't be easy to take, but we'll have to try. It's the only thing we can do now and we have to make the best of things. It's certainly within the possibilities of the team, as we definitely don't have bad riders at the start here."