Robert Gesink of Rabobank has learned a lot in the last two years, much of it hard lessons. He suffered from the death of his father throughout the 2011 season, and struggled his way to the end of the Tour de France. But “now I am back and happy,” he has said.
The 2011 season started out good, as he won two stages of the Tour of Oman on his way to the overall title. Although he had a number of top placings, he never again stood alone on the top step of the podium that year.
Things look to have turned around this year, though. Gesink crowned his comeback by winning the Mount Baldy stage of the recent Amgen Tour of California, giving him the race lead which he held until the end.
“I was racing already this year, but the results weren't there. I'm happy [now] because athletes want results. It's been slower than I wanted but now I'm here,” he said after that race.
Gesink had a number of problems to overcome, both physical and emotional. It started when he hit the road in the fifth stage of the Tour last summer, and needed stitches in his right elbow and hand. He stayed in the race and rode it to the end, which he now says he wouldn't do again. Abandoning the race is the better option, he told Wielerland magazine.
“I don't want to get into a situation like this again – that you are only fighting against yourself. The next time in a similar situation I will say: goodbye, and you will see me again in the Vuelta.”
His whole 2011 season was negatively affected by the death of his father. The elder Gesink died in October 2010 as a result of a mountain biking crash. In the 2011 Tirreno-Adriatico, “I was second in the overall standings, but the only thing could think about was getting back to my family. I found it totally useless to descend mountains at 100 kilometres an hour.”
Gesink, 26, coped with things on his own. “I deliberately didn't look for any professional help. I had no good feelings about that. I did it my own way, with my family. Now I am back and happy.”
The final bit of bad news for the Dutch rider was a broken leg suffered in September 2011. But from there, things started getting better. His first child, daughter Anne, was born in December, and he won a stage and the overall title in the Tour of California, for his first win since February 2011.