Belkin head to Vuelta with GC hopes pinned on Mollema, ten Dam

Belkin will take on the Vuelta a España with a three-pronged attack although there has been a slight setback for their sprint chances with Mark Renshaw a late omission due to illness.

The Dutch team’s general classification hopes rest with Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam in a repeat of the Tour de France. There, Mollema rode to sixth overall while ten Dam finished 13th.

"With Laurens and Bauke, we hope to have the best GC ride possible," said sports director Erik Dekker. "After the Tour, it will be a challenge for them both to again give everything they have, both mentally and physically. They need to be good from the start because after the team time trial on the first day, the mountains immediately pop up."

Mollema has had a solid lead-up to the Vuelta a España and said he is looking forward to sharing leadership with ten Dam.

"I have been in Spain the last week to train in the mountains and get used to the heat," he explained. "I'm feeling strong but I don't know how my body will react to two Grand Tours in a row."

"I already finished fourth once [at the Vuelta], while last year Laurens placed eighth."

Ten Dam's run towards the Vuelta was not without its flaws as the Tour des Fjords did not go off as planned.

"I crashed on the first day and wasn't really able to follow in the team time trial," he explained. "I'll have to wait and see how strong I really am, but I'm excited. We'll know soon enough where we stand with all those summit finishes in the first week."

Renshaw said on his twitter feed late on Tuesday that is was "A huge disappointment not to be racing the Vuelta. The virus I caught in Eneco Tour completely wrecked me. New goals have to be set now!"

In his place will be Robert Wagner but the sprint focus now rests with Theo Bos who is riding his third grand tour and second Vuelta. Bos is yet to win a stage of a grand tour however it is hoped he can make the most of the few opportunities available for the fast men of the peloton.

"Theo has up to five chances because there aren't that many flat stages," explained Dekker. "It's also important for him to see if he can handle the mountains and finish a Grand Tour."

Belkin line-up for the Vuelta a Espana: Theo Bos, Graeme Brown, Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Robert Wagner, Juanma Gárate, Bauke Mollema, Luis León Sánchez and David Tanner.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1