The Blanco team has revealed its nine-rider squad for the 100th edition of the Tour de France, opting to name Bauke Mollema and not Robert Gesink, as team leader.
The Dutch team, that was sponsored by Rabobank until the bank quit following a series of doping scandals last winter, is expected to reveal Belkin as its news sponsor on the eve of the Tour de France.
Gesink has often been the team's leader at Grand Tours but after his poor performance and retirement at the Giro d'Italia and Mollema's second place overall at the Tour de Suisse, Mollema has been given the protected leadership role in the team.
“We are looking to score a good classification with him. We are aiming for the top ten but in fact we’re simply trying for the maximum achievable. We could say that we’d like Bauke to finish fourth, but if he then finishes fourth when second was within grasp, I’d say we’d be less satisfied. But if it turns out that he is seventh and that is the best result we could have expected, then we’d be happy with that.”
“In the Tour of Switzerland, Bauke showed that he was ready in the way he rode and led the team. On top of a good GC, we would like to take a stage win."
Mollema will be supported by teammates Lars Boom, Laurens ten Dam, Gesink, Tom Leezer, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Bram Tankink, Sep Vanmarcke en Maarten Wynants. The Dutch team has decided to focus on the overall classification, opting not to select sprinters Theo Bos or Mark Renshaw.
The Australian hinted that he would not be part of the Blanco Tour de France team on Monday, tweeting: Can anybody recommend a good serviced apartment in the St. Moritz area during summer?
He failed to finish the Tour de Suisse and is reported to be considering offers from other teams for 2014, including joining up with former teammate Mark Cavendish at Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
Gesink's new role
Verhoeven explained Gesink's new role in the Blanco Tour de France squad.
“Robert will have a relatively open role but will be expected to take care of Bauke in the high mountain stages together with Laurens," he said.
"Nordhaug and Boom are dangerous stage pirates but also understand what it means to be a domestique. Bram [Tankink] is our road captain and Maarten [Whynants] is an all-rounder who has proven his worth in the big tours. Sep and Tom [Leezer] formed a good team with Bauke in the Tour de Suisse and kept him out of trouble in the run-up to the mountains.”
Directeur sportif: Frans Maassen, Nico Verhoeven, and Merijn Zeeman.