Gesink to lead LottoNL-Jumbo in California

LottoNL-Jumbo today released their roster for the Tour of California May 10-17, with Robert Gesink returning to the race for the first time since he won the overall in 2012.

"I think the Tour of California is a beautiful race," Gesink said in the team announcement. "I’ve been successful here in the past and after riding the Tour de Romandie this is a logical step for me. I hope to be able to compete for top results even more than in Switzerland, because ultimately that’s what it’s all about. With Moreno Hofland’s win in Yorkshire, the team’s year has taken off. I want to continue that success in America."

Gesink was the race's best young rider in 2007 and also in 2008, when he won the stage from Modesto to San Jose. He took a second stage win in 2012, winning atop Mt. Baldy with a devastating attack in the final 4.5km that also secured the overall lead. The race returns to Mt. Baldy this year for a summit finish during stage 7.

Aside from Gesink's general classification hopes, the team will bring Belgian sprinter Tom Van Asbroeck to hunt stage wins. Dennis Van Winden, who previously rode for the Rabobank and Belkin incarnations of the team before moving to the Continental level with Synergy Baku earlier this year,  will return to LottoNL-Jumbo in time for the California race. Although Synergy Baku stated that they released Van Winden to sign with the WorldTour team and race at the Giro d'Italia, LottoNL-Jumbo confirmed that he will instead be on the Tour of California roster.

"I’m very happy to return to the highest level," Van Winden said of his return to LottoNL-Jumbo. "I’m proud to be a part of the family again. I want to thank Baku for the opportunity they have given me. It is a project I believe in and I’ll keep following them for sure. I’m looking forward to assisting Robert [Gesink] and Tom [Van Asbroeck] as much as I can in the Tour of California."

Team director Erik Dekker said Van Winden will play a key role in the team's stage-hunting opportunities.

"Dennis is a strong lead-out man," Dekker said. "Our sprinters will certainly benefit from his presence. In California, we’ll start working on the Van Winden-Van Asbroeck train because in the sprints we want to take on Cavendish."

Other riders making the trip to California for the Dutch squad include Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Mike Teunissen, Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants.

The team said Gesink will remain in the US after the race to train at altitude.

"I want to prepare myself for the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France," Gesink said. "I like being in the States as it offers me the perfect combination of training and fun."

LottoNL-Jumbo for Tour of California: Tom van Asbroeck, Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Robert Gesink, Mike Teunissen, Sep Vanmarcke, Dennis Van Winden & Maarten Wynants.

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