The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM will start the 101st edition of the Tour de France on July 5 with a lot of ambition. With a strong group of riders, the team hopes to put ‘Bau and Lau’ in the spotlights as in 2013.
“We want to repeat our good performances from last year,” said Sports Director Nico Verhoeven, referring to Bauke Mollema’s and Laurens ten Dam’s sixth and 13th place in the overall. “Bauke is our leader. Laurens has a role similar to last year. We will protect him so that he can save energy to help Bauke in the mountains. If that puts him in a good position overall, we will not sacrifice him. The Tour is long and anything can happen. Even with Bauke.”
The Tour de Suisse was good for the Tour team’s confidence, Verhoeven said. “We had seven of the guys who are also going to France and reached a very high level. Bauke ended up third place overall and was close to a stage victory twice, which gives us a lot of confidence. All nine guys who’re riding the Tour are in a good shape. Last year we did great, but this is a new race with new opportunities and we’ll start from zero, just like everyone else.”
Bauke Mollema had a prosperous altitude training camp and a successful Tour de Suisse in the run-up to the Tour, which helps him look forward to La Grande Boucle.
“I feel just as good as last year at this same time, maybe even slightly better,” Mollema said. “That doesn’t automatically mean that I will achieve better results, however. Everyone has slightly higher expectations of course, but I don’t have any problems with that. “I really like this year’s parcours as there are many stages that finish uphill. I’ll give my all in the mountain stages and then automatically see who my competitors are and what position I can fight for. Besides a good overall, my goal is also a stage win. I will certainly do my best to win one. “The cobbled stage will be an important day for the GC riders, but I’ve reconned it and it went well. We have a strong team, which will definitely benefit me on that day.”
One of the riders that can teach Mollema a thing or two about racing on cobblestones is Sep Vanmarcke. “It won’t be anything similar to Paris-Roubaix, however,” explained Vanmarcke. “The distance isn’t long enough and there are too few cobbled sections. “I began the Tour de Suisse with some small discomfort after a crash in the Belgium Tour, but in the final weekend, I rode at a high level. I’ve never been able to hang on so long in the mountains. “Last year in the Tour, we did well protecting our leaders. I hope it goes well again this time.”
Laurens ten Dam
Laurens ten Dam will start the Tour de France with a free role. “As always, it’s the most important race of the year and I just hope to do as well as possible. Last season was fine and hopefully this time it’s more of the same, though it’s always difficult to look ahead. I’m just going to do my best and then we’ll see where I stand. “The Tour de Suisse went well, but not great,” said Ten Dam referring to his 13th place overall. “Last year in the build-up to the Tour, I also finished 13th in the Critérium du Dauphiné…”
Lars Boom, Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Leezer, Bauke Mollema, Bram Tankink, Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants.