“We’ll take Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam to Spain, it’s clear our target is the overall,” said Sports Director Nico Verhoeven. “Wilco has trained at altitude in Utah. In the Tour of Utah, he showed well. Robert has also trained in the United States and we saw him do well in the Tour of Poland. They are our first two leaders.”
Laurens ten Dam will take on the role of joker. “Laurens had a good Tour. As with Steven Kruijswijk in the Tour, we won’t let him do the dirty work in the Vuelta and burn him up unnecessarily. “I don’t like to talk results when it comes to our ambitions. We’ll strive for the best possible place in the strong field that will be lining up for the Vuelta.”
Robert Gesink will head to the Vuelta after an altitude training camp in the United States and the Tour of Poland. “Because of the long stages and the long travels, Poland turned out to be a heavy week. I was able to work on my intensity there and that’s important. To extend the benefits of my training camp, I’ll sleep in my altitude tent a few times this week.
“Moreover, I have done some time trial training sessions as the race begins with an important team time trial. For me, of course the GC is what matters, but I also hope to gain some confidence so that I’m ready to have a normal season again next year. In the past, I did well in the Vuelta, both in stages and in the overall. I hope to get to that level again. So many things are possible then.”
Wilco Kelderman went to Utah, specifically for the Vuelta, where he trained at altitude and finished fifth in the Tour of Utah. “That was the perfect preparation. I’m confident. I wasn’t expecting to win in Utah, I was hoping to improve, especially in the final stages, and that’s what happened. I was able to fight with the best riders in the race. It was unfortunate that I didn’t manage to win a stage.
“This year’s Giro was my first grand tour as a leader, and that’s going to help me in Spain. For example, I now know better how to save energy and how to be a leader. We’ll start the Vuelta with a good team. A lot of good riders will be at the start, but I won’t be putting too much pressure on myself. I’ll only think about my own performance, aim for a good overall and see how far I get. That always works well for me.”
Laurens ten Dam
Laurens ten Dam placed ninth overall in July in the Tour de France. Via crits, the Clasica San Sebastian and the Prudential RideLondon Classic, he prepared himself for his second grand tour of the year.
“I have done more in between races this time than two years ago,” said Ten Dam, who back then placed eighth in the Vuelta after finishing the Tour in 28th. “San Sebastian and London went well. I hope I can improve during the Vuelta. On the sixth day, we will face the first uphill finish. Just as in the Tour, I want to take stock on the first rest day. I’m really looking forward to the Vuelta, I’ve already spotted a few nice mountain top finishes.”
For Moreno Hofland, the Vuelta a España will be his first grand tour. Verhoeven thinks the time is ripe for the young Dutchman. “Moreno is a rider who’s developing. He has won a few big races, a stage in Paris-Nice for example, but a grand tour is different. It will undoubtedly make him stronger and he’ll be benefiting from it next year. There are a few interesting stages for him where he can fight for the win, for example with John Degenkolb.”
Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Robert Gesink, Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Paul Martens, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner.