Rabo youngsters show Classics promise

Gesink and Dekker both finished in the Top 5 of the race

Gesink and Dekker both finished in the Top 5 of the race (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Team Rabobank was more than happy with the results of the Flèche Wallonne, as Robert Gesink and Thomas Dekker finished fourth and fifth. The team might not have won the race, but it can look to those two young riders as strong possibilities in future Classics. Gesink is 21 and a second year pro, while Dekker is 23 and in his fourth pro year, and both overtook a lot of their elder rivals in the finishing climb in Huy, failing to win only by a few seconds.

"Our youngsters performed amazingly well. Winning comes first, but looking at this field of specialists we can all live with this result," said team manager Frans Maassen after the race. Gesink said, "This was the best we could do. Maybe I could have ended up on the podium because I overtook Cunego on the finish, but he countered that. A shame. But otherwise I am definitely satisfied. Second-year professional and a fourth-place finish here. That boosts morale."

The two young Dutch riders stayed with the main group with the favourites throughout the race and powered their way up the final climb of the Mur de Huy in the pouring rain, outdoing many of their elders.

"I know that the rider who has saved most will win here. I held back as much as I could during the race and on the Mur I chose to let it go for a moment," Gesink explained. "I think that was a smart decision, because we overtook a bunch of guys at the end. But some of these men are still just a little too explosive for me on a climb like this."

There was no win for Rabobank there this year, but this may change in the future. "I am 21 and I am new to the game," Gesink said. "In a race like the Flèche Wallonne it also boils down to some experience and toughness. I am obviously mostly lacking in that area. But that also goes for Thomas. The men that finish in front of us are all quite a bit older. They will have to try and defeat us when we are that age."

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