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Michael "bling" Matthews (Rabobank)
Men's and women's road and mountain bike squads are introduced
Rabobank presented its team for 2012 on Tuesday - or rather, its teams. Four separate teams will carry the name of the Dutch bank in the coming season, and all attended the presentation in Utrecht. The mens' pro team, the Continental team, and the Off-Road team were joined by the new women's team built around Marianne Vos.
Newcomer Mark Renshaw is the team's new hope for sprint victories, in the absence of Oscar Freire. The Australian, who comes over from the defunct HTC-Highroad, will now have the chance to go for sprint wins against his former captain Mark Cavendish.
"I'm very motivated for next year, its a great opportunity for me," he said at the presentation. "I'm proud to be on board with Rabobank."
"My first objective for the season is the Tour Down Under."
The other two newcomers are Jetse Bol and Wilco Kelderman, both of whom come up from the Continental team.
One of 2011's newcomers was Matti Breschel, who came to lead the team in Spring Classics, but missed them due to knee problems. He returned to racing over the summer, only to crash out of the Vuelta a Espana with two broken fingers.
"Right now it's all about the Classics," the Dane said "I feel fine, 100 per cent."
Robert Gesink was proud to report his progress recovering from a broken femur, suffered in a training crash in September. "I'm satisfied with how it is going. On Sunday I rode for four hours on the 'cross bike. That was a milestone."
Steven Kruijswijk will ride the Tour de France for the first time next year, it was announced. He finished ninth in the Giro d'Italia and third in the Tour de Suisse this year, calling it "indeed a breakthrough."
Bauke Mollema will also head to the Tour, after his successful Vuelta a Espana. "It was nice to work through the winter with such a Vuelta behind me. Whether I am at the start again in Spain in 2012, I don't know. The Tour is my absolute goal," according to nusport.nl.
Managing Director Harold Knebel was proud to point out that pro cycling in the Netherlands is booming. "There are three professional teams, all contracts are renewed. It's great in the Netherlands, we are the rarities in the sport."
The coming year will be an "exciting" one, he said. "There are many challenges, including the team time trial for professional teams at the world championships in our own land, and the Olympic Games. Our goal is to the amongst the best five teams in the world."
One rider was absent from the festivities. Maarten Wynants, the team's only Belgian rider, was with his family, as his second son was born Tuesday morning.
In addition to Freire, the team said goodbye to Pieter Weening and Sebastian Langeveld, who are not returning to the squad for 2012.
Women's road team
For the first time, Rabobank's teams will also include a women's squad in 2012. The team should include riders with a range of experience levels and will be built around Marianne Vos and will be led by retired Dutch racer Jeroen Blijlevens.
"This team is much bigger than I'm used to. [It's] all very professional," said Vos to nusport.nl. Look how many riders and experienced management there are here. This is really good for women's cycling."
The women will focus on the Olympic Games, World Cups and other major events.
"The Rabobank family is now complete," said general manager of the Rabobank team, Harold Knebel, according to the team's website rabosport.nl.
Rabobank WorldTour team 2012: Bauke Mollema (Ned), Bram Tankink (Ned), Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned), Dennis van Winden (Ned), Jetse Bol (Ned), Jos van Emden (Ned), Lars Boom (Ned), Laurens ten Dam (Ned), Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), Rick Flens (Ned), Robert Gesink (Ned), Stef Clement (Ned), Steven Kruijswijk (Ned), Theo Bos (Ned), Tom-Jelte Slager (Ned), Tom Leezer (Ned), Wilco Kelderman (Ned), Carlos Barredo (Spa), Graeme Brown (Aus), Grischa Niermann (Ger), Juan Manuel Garate (Spa), Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa), Maarten Wynants (Bel), Mark Renshaw (Aus), Matti Breschel (Den), Michael Matthews (Aus), Paul Martens (Ger).
Rabobank Women's team 2012: Marianne Vos (Ned), Thalita de Jong (Ned), Roxane Knetemann (Ned), Iris Slappendel (Ned), Rebecca Talen (Ned), Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned), Monique van der Vorst (Ned), Liesbet de Vocht (Ned), Sarah Düster (Ger), Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Fra), Lauren Kitchen (Aus), Tatiana Antosjina (Rus).