The 2009 Tour de France promised so much for Rabobank but a string of events left them clasping at straws and at the 2010 presentation in Paris today, director sportif Eric Breukink laid out the team’s modest aims.
“For us it’s an okay route. There are obviously some special features - the Alps and Pyrenees will be hard but suited to our climbers. There’s also the cobbled stages where we could do something. There’s something for a lot of riders,” Breukink told Cyclingnews.
At the start of the 2009 Tour in July Rabobank were on the crest of a wave. They boasted the Giro d’Italia champion Denis Menchov, talented climber Robert Gesink and green jersey holder Oscar Freire. However after three weeks of racing the Dutch team had witnessed Freire fall apart as a sprinter, Menchov falter as team leader and Gesink crash out. Only Juan Gárate saved the team’s blushes when he won the stage to Mont Ventoux.
The team is yet to finalise their training programmes for 2010 but Breukink believes that better times could lay ahead for both Gesink and Menchov, although he wouldn’t be drawn on team hierarchy after Gesink rode to an impressive sixth in the recent Vuelta España. “They are our best climbers and you want to have them in the race but they need to be fit. We’re talking about training schedules and race programs now but nothing will be finalised before November,” he said.
Therefore whether Menchov would defend his Giro crown was still up in the air: “I don’t know about Denis yet. It’s not decided. We’ll talk soon about his plans.”
As for Freire, Breukink more than hinted that the Spaniard might not even ride the 2010 Tour. “I don’t know. There are only a few stages for him at the start. Young sprinters are now taking over with Cavendish and Farrar. We’ll see if he’ll ride or not. Again, we’ve not decided anything.”
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