The Belkin Pro Cycling Team will start the Vuelta a España in Vilanova de Arousa on Saturday with three leaders. Sports Director Erik Dekker aims for sprint wins with Theo Bos and, as in the Tour de France, a GC focus for Laurens ten Dam and Bauke Mollema.
“Theo has up to five chances because there aren’t that many flat stages,” explained Dekker. “It’s also important for him to see if he can handle the mountains and finish a Grand Tour.”
“With Laurens and Bauke, we hope to have the best GC ride possible,” Dekker continued. “After the Tour, it will be a challenge for them both to again give everything they have, both mentally and physically. They need to be good from the start because after the team time trial on the first day, the mountains immediately pop up.”
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team has two goals with the sprint train and two GC men. Dekker wonders how the team will handle this test. “This is a test for the future. We want to see how we can combine these two objectives. It will be a challenge to find the right balance.”
Mollema has had a solid lead-up to the Vuelta a España. “I have been in Spain the last week to train in the mountains and get used to the heat. I’m feeling strong but I don’t know how my body will react to two Grand Tours in a row,” Mollema said. “I’m looking forward to sharing the leadership role with Laurens. We both like the Vuelta. I already finished fourth once, while last year Laurens placed eighth.”
Laurens ten Dam
Ten Dam’s run towards the Vuelta was not without its flaws as the Tour des Fjords did not go off as planned. “I crashed on the first day and wasn’t really able to follow in the team time trial,” Ten Dam explained. “I’ll have to wait and see how strong I really am, but I’m excited. We’ll know soon enough where we stand with all those summit finishes in the first week.”
Robert Wagner replaces Australian Mark Renshaw, who is ill. After consultation with the team management, Renshaw decided not to start.
Theo Bos, Graeme Brown, Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Robert Wagner, Juanma Gárate, Bauke Mollema, Luis León Sánchez and David Tanner.
Erik Dekker, Merijn Zeeman and Michiel Elijzen