Belkin name Vuelta a España team
Gesink, Kelderman and ten Dam all targeting overall success
Belkin have named its Vuelta a España squad which has been built around the hopes of Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam all securing high overall classification places.
Ten Dam was ninth overall at the Tour de France while Kelderman was seventh at the Giro d'Italia in May. The Spanish grand tour will be Gesink's first of the year after he underwent heart surgery in April but the 28-year-old has finished in the top ten on three occasions.
Kelderman will be making his debut at the Vuelta and along with Gesink, the duo will be the protected riders.
"We'll take Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam to Spain, it's clear our target is the overall," said sports director Nico Verhoeven. "Wilco has trained at altitude in Utah. In the Tour of Utah, he showed well. Robert has also trained in the United States and we saw him do well in the Tour of Poland. They are our first two leaders.
"Laurens had a good Tour. As with Steven Kruijswijk in the Tour, we won''t let him do the dirty work in the Vuelta and burn him up unnecessarily.
"I don't like to talk results when it comes to our ambitions. We'll strive for the best possible place in the strong field that will be lining up for the Vuelta."
Gesink made his comeback to racing at the Tour of Poland where he placed eighth and along with a stint of altitude training in America, he is confident of posting a high placing.
"Because of the long stages and the long travels, Poland turned out to be a heavy week," Gesink explained. "I was able to work on my intensity there and that's important. To extend the benefits of my training camp, I'll sleep in my altitude tent a few times this week.
"Moreover, I have done some time trial training sessions as the race begins with an important team time trial. For me, of course the GC is what matters, but I also hope to gain some confidence so that I'm ready to have a normal season again next year. In the past, I did well in the Vuelta, both in stages and in the overall. I hope to get to that level again. So many things are possible then."
The Vuelta will be Kelderman's big goal of the second half of 2014 after his impressive performances at the Giro and Crtiterium du Dauphine where we placed fourth on GC and won the best young riders classification.
"That was the perfect preparation," Kelderman said of the Tour of Utah in which he finished fifth overall. "I'm confident. I wasn't expecting to win in Utah, I was hoping to improve, especially in the final stages, and that's what happened. I was able to fight with the best riders in the race. It was unfortunate that I didn't manage to win a stage."
Kelderman made his grand tour debut at last year's Giro, finishing 17th overall, which saw him become a protected rider at the Italian race in May and for the second time in 2014, he will led the team's GC ambitions.
"This year's Giro was my first grand tour as a leader, and that's going to help me in Spain," Kelderman said. "For example, I now know better how to save energy and how to be a leader. We'll start the Vuelta with a good team. A lot of good riders will be at the start, but I won't be putting too much pressure on myself. I'll only think about my own performance, aim for a good overall and see how far I get. That always works well for me."
Ten Dam was eighth the last time he rode the Vuelta in 2012 and explained that he is well prepared for the 2014 edition.
"I have done more in between races this time than two years ago," said ten Dam. "San Sebastian and London went well. I hope I can improve during the Vuelta. On the sixth day, we will face the first uphill finish. Just as in the Tour, I want to take stock on the first rest day. I'm really looking forward to the Vuelta, I've already spotted a few nice mountain top finishes."
The team will also be hoping that Moreno Hofland can continue his good form that saw him claim two stage wins at the Tour of Utah and win a stage in his maiden grand tour.
"Moreno is a rider who's developing," Verhoeven said. "He has won a few big races, a stage in Paris-Nice for example, but a grand tour is different. It will undoubtedly make him stronger and he'll be benefiting from it next year. There are a few interesting stages for him where he can fight for the win, for example with John Degenkolb."
Belkin Vuelta a España team: Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Robert Gesink, Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Paul Martens, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner.
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
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!