By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar
Team Rabobank will aim to sharpen its skills for the Spring Classics at the Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6. The Dutch team will have to do without its captain Nick Nuyens, who returned home on the eve of the race to be with his wife and their soon-to-be-born baby.
"We don't have a sprinter and there are a lot of sprinters here. However, I want to see our team in the race and we need to show ourselves and work like a team," said Directeur Sportif Erik Dekker to Cyclingnews.
The race started on Sunday with a team time trial and continues over the next five days with stages designed to suit sprinters.
Rabobank came to the sprinters' stage race with one-day riders more suited to the Classics, like Belgian Nick Nuyens and Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha. However, the team is down to seven of its original eight after Nuyens flew home.
Dekker will continue with this group of riders in the team's next races: Ruta del Sol next week, Paris-Nice, Omloop Het Volk and Northern Classics.
"We have a very strong team and this [Tour of Qatar] is meant to help build form and not for the classification. Many of the stages could be decided by cross winds, but I would like to have the team up front to simply show the competition that we are here and have a strong team."
Team Rabobank finished fourth, four seconds behind Garmin - Slipstream in the opening six-kilometre team time trial.