Dutch outfit Rabobank has named its provisional team for the 2012 Tour de France, which starts in Liège on June 30. Their main challenge in the overall general classification will as expected be led by Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema, while Steven Kruijswijk has been named as co-leader in what will be his first appearance in the race.
In all there will be six Dutch riders in orange on the start line, with three foreign riders - Mark Renshaw (Austraila), Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) and Martin Wynants (Belgium) - making up the rest of the team of nine.
Gesink has run into form over the last couple of months, having won the Amgen Tour of California in May and secured fourth overall at the Tour de Suisse, which finished on Sunday. He finished 6th overall (upgraded to 5th after the Alberto Contador clenbuterol conviction) at the 2010 Tour de France and has therefore got proven form in the book at cycling's showpiece event.
Mollema is the team's other big GC hope. Although he has had a underwhelming 2012 so far, observers will point to his superb performance at last year's Vuelta a Espana, where he finished 4th, as evidence of his Grand Tour pedigree. Rabobank will also look to take points in the sprints via Renshaw, who proved his well being at the recent Ster ZLM Toer and appears to be finally making good progress in his leap from lead-out man to full blown number one sprinter.
It will be particularly interesting to see how Mollema and Gesink perform. Only last month the Dutch duo were told to move on to fulfill their potential by former Rabobank stalwart Michael Boogerd, who criticised the team for a lack of ambition.
Rabobank squad for 2012 Tour de France: Laurens Ten Dam, Robert Gesink, Steven Kruijswijk, Bauke Mollema, Mark Renshaw, Luis Leon Sanchez, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants