LottoNL-Jumbo goes to the Tour de France without Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink still struggles too much with the damage he faced after his crash in the Tour de Suisse. With Wilco Kelderman and sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, the Dutch team still has enough guns to aim for stage victory in France.

“We want to win a stage,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven says. “Wilco Kelderman is able to show off in the mountains and we have some men who have to be able to finish it off from the breakaway on the days that are too hard for the sprinters.”

“Besides that, we’re going to sprint with Dylan Groenewegen,” Verhoeven continues. “He participates in the Tour de France earlier than expected, but that’s not a choice we made only based on his good results. We are expecting him to be ready for the Tour de France already since a while. That he won already quite a lot races, is something extra. That might be a reason for higher expectations, but we send him to the Tour from a process of learning. He gets the chance to experience the biggest cycling race of the year, already and from that point of view, we’re going to aim for the best results possible.”

Groenewegen approaches his selection for the Tour de France as a reward for his strong season, but keeps the long term in mind. “We’re in a process in which we aim for a stage win in the Tour de France of 2018,” the sprinter explains. “It went quite fast with the development of the sprint lead-out, this season. Of course we want to deliver something beautiful in the Tour and when it’s up to me, it’s going to be something very beautiful, but I shouldn’t expect myself to be able to win a stage, immediately. There are going to come a lot of chances for the sprinters in the first week, so I will focus on that part of the race. I have to see how it goes, afterwards. It would be nice if I’m able to finish the Tour so I can bring that experience to the upcoming seasons.”

Team LottoNL-Jumbo has to do it in the Tour de France without Robert Gesink, who should have been the team’s leader. Gesink crashed in the Tour de Suisse and the medical staff doesn’t think he’s recovered enough from it.

“I’ve put a lot of energy in my preparations for the Tour de France and I felt strong on Tenerife. It’s a big disappointment that I have to miss the Tour because of this setback,” Robert Gesink tells from his address in Spain. George Bennett, he proved that he improved a lot this season in the Tour of California and the Criterium du Dauphiné replaces Gesink.

“The absence of Gesink doesn’t change the role Wilco Kelderman’s going to play,” Verhoeven tells. “Wilco goes to the Tour de France in a free role. Now Gesink falls away, he holds the position we planned with him.”

“I’m going to the Tour de France with a lot of confidence,” Kelderman adds. “I’ve had a good period of training and most of the days in the Tour de Suisse went well. I’m looking forward to the Tour and we’re going to aim for good results. My free role gives me the chance to chose some stages to aim for. My chances are in the mountains. It’s a good thing that the sprint train goes to the Tour as well. They are in a flow and are very motivated. We’re going to the Tour with that flow, together!”

LottoNl-Jumbo line-up at the Tour de France 2016: George Bennett, Dylan Groenewegen, Wilco Kelderman, Bert-Jan Lindemen, Paul Martens, Timo Roosen, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.