As the search goes on for a sponsor to fill the void left by Rabobank, Team Blanco heads into the Giro d'Italia this weekend with GC hope Robert Gesink down on form but still confident of a strong performance.
Gesink, who last year rode and won the overall at the Tour of California in the build up to the Tour de France, is coming off a 54th placing at the Tour of Romandie.
"I would have liked to have built up a bit more confidence in Romandie, but I know from myself that I will usually have a few dips in the week after hypoxic training - the real benefit hits me about a week after - so I am not at all concerned," the Dutchman explained. "As a team, we rode very well in Romandie and dotted the i's. I am very satisfied with that.
"In the run-up to the Giro, I've done everything possible to perform well and I am confident that the goals we have formulated are attainable," he concluded with Blanco aiming for a top-five on GC.
Joining Gesink in support will be debutant Wilco Kelderman who was fifth overall at Romandie as well as Steven Kruijswijk who was next best for the team in 21st. Kelderman said he was looking forward to his first grand tour.
"The training camp in Tenerife did me a lot of good," he said. "I lost a bit of weight but picked up some uphill strength. In Romandie, I was fit the entire week and could climb with the best of them. That gives me a lot of confidence headed into the Giro where I intend to work hard for Robert."
Should Blanco's GC objectives not go to plan, the team has a back-up in Paul Martens, Maarten Wynants and Maarten Tjallingii who will focus on individual stages.
"If it does not run contrary to what we want to accomplish in the classification, we may be able to do something with Paul in some of the more challenging sprint finales," explained Team Director Jan Boven. "We trained on the finales in Romandie and that went very well. Both Maartens will function as road captains."
Team Blanco for the Giro d'Italia: Robert Gesink, Steven Kruijswijk, Wilco Kelderman, Stef Clement, Jack Bobridge, Juanma Garate, Paul Martens, Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants.
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