Robert Gesink has confirmed that he will make his Giro d'Italia debut in 2013, and the Dutchman will line up in Naples flanked by a youthful Blanco squad, with his thoughts trained on final overall victory.
Speaking to Cyclingnews in Fuerteventura during Blanco Pro Cycling's first training camp, Gesink explained that he will go to the Giro partly in a bid to entice a new backers to the team, which was left without a title sponsor when Rabobank withdrew in October.
"Right now, we're team Blanco: that means we have no sponsor for our team and we have to work hard to find one," Gesink said. "The Giro is the first big tour and I think it's a good thing to be at the first big tour to show ourselves and show what we're made of and what we stand for."
Not that Gesink's sojourn south of the Alps will solely be a marketing exercise. While the 26-year-old is also pencilled in to co-lead the squad with Bauke Mollema at July's Tour de France, he is going to Italy with the maglia rosa in mind, inspired in part by Ryder Hesjedal's victory in 2012.
"A podium would be great," he said. "I look at last year and saw Ryder doing so good and I think if he can do so, maybe I can do so as well, hopefully. That's the ambition."
While Astana and Sky are expected to bring strong teams to the Giro in support of Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins, respectively, Blanco Pro Cycling could yet have considerable strength in numbers in the lead group on the climbs.
Gesink is the central prong of a youthful trident that also includes 21-year-old Wilco Kelderman and 25-year-old Steven Kruijswijk, and all three are products of the Rabobank Continental team. "Everything is set up to go with a really strong team," Gesink said. "When I need them, the guys will be there."
Fifth place in the 2010 Tour de France, Gesink has been beset by injury over the past two seasons. He broke his leg in a training accident in late 2011, and both of his past two Tours have been ruined by crashes, but is hopeful that his sixth place finish at September's Vuelta a España has drawn a line under an unfortunate spell.
"For me it was more or less the end of a long period of getting back to the level I came from," he said of the Vuelta. "I was happy to be back there and do good in the Vuelta overall. Now I can look forward to improving instead of only getting back to the level that I came from."
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