By Hedwig Kröner in Nice
The Dutch Rabobank team has been known to cultivate talented young riders for a while now. Within the Espoir squad of the team, several riders have grown ripe during the last seasons, and three of them have turned pro this season: Joost Posthuma, Jukka Vastaranta and Thomas Dekker. Although the stage win of one of them must have come as a surprise to some, after a very successful last year as an amateur, 24 year-old Posthuma wasn't afraid to enter the next level of cycling.
"I really wanted a ProTour point [awarded for a ProTour stage victory - ed.], and we had planned to attack, so that's what I did," Posthuma told Cyclingnews on the morning of the last stage of the "race to the sun" on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. "I was afraid Jörg Ludewig would came back to me, and I nearly crashed in that descent towards the finish. I was at full speed!" Posthuma, an excellent rouleur, drove along the coast with a tailwind, reaching almost 60 km/h. And although he did not want to talk about his long-term goals - "There are so many races" - while watching the scene, one got the feeling that a rider with great class was taking his first professional victory, barely starting out.
Cyclingnews also talked to the youngest rider of this year's Paris-Nice, 20 year-old Thomas Dekker. The Dutchman placed second in both the road race and the time trial of the U23 World Championships in Verona last year, and is learning a lot in the pro ranks now. "It's a hard race," he said, "Especially since three of the stages have been cut down - I'm better on longer routes. But Joost showed that young riders can also win here. The peloton let him go because he was at nine minutes of the leaders on GC. For me, it would have been more difficult to break, as I was 'only' at three." Dekker - who has no family ties with the elder Erik - is preparing for the Giro d'Italia at the moment, where he hopes to win a stage.
Asked if last year's disappointment of not becoming World Champion was forgotten, he replied, "Oh yes. It was still a very successful season for me, winning the World Cup and eight races. I was disappointed with my time trial, that's true, but I don't think about that anymore now." So he shouldn't, as he knows he has a lot of time ahead of him to make up for it.