Amstel Gold race has always been an integral date within Dutch cycling calendar, but this year the race takes on a more significant role with two of the nations top teams searching for sponsorship for 2014.
Blanco, the follow up team that replaced Rabobank after they exited the sport in 2012, are currently talking to several interested parties to fund the team for next year and come into Amstel with one of their strongest squads, and are well aware that a win would do their sponsorship search no harm at all.
The team have not won the race since Erik Dekker beat Lance Armstrong to the finish line in 2001, but in Bauke Mollema and Tom Slagter the team have two riders with significant chances.
“I haven’t really raced in a couple of weeks and I am not sure exactly where I stand but in the period before that, I felt very strong. On top of that, I’ve been able to train very well the past few days. What Sep did strengthens me as well. Secretly, I am already looking to Luik-Bastenaken-Luik which is more my race, but I believe I can also do well in the Amstel,” said Mollema, who was 10th last year.
Slagter has never ridden the race but has started the season strongly, winning the overall at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.
“The routes suits me: it somewhat comparable to the stage I took in Australia. It’s just a hundred kilometres longer and different group of riders. I am going to follow my instincts on this one. If I think I can play a role in the finish, I’ll go for it. If not, I’ll try to make myself useful to the team in another way – tagging along up front or supporting Bauke."
Team Blanco for Amstel Gold: Bauke Mollema, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Lars Boom, Laurens Ten Dam, Paul Martens, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Bram Tankink and David Tanner. Sport Directors: Erik Dekker and Frans Maassen.
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