While some teams like to leave it as late as possible before selecting their Tour de France squads, Rabobank became one of the earliest Thursday as it announced its lineup for the 2010 Tour.
Denis Menchov and Robert Gesink will lead the Dutch-backed team, which is aiming for the podium with a solid team that also includes sprinter Oscar Freire and Dutch sensation Lars Boom.
“It’s important that the riders know as early as possible where they stand. It’s good for the preparation and the amount of stress is minimized,” said Rabobank sport director Erik Breukink. “I think we’ll have a strong team.”
Menchov is hoping to shake off an uneven spring that’s seen him struggling with health issues to become a force for overall victory. Third in 2008, Menchov won the 2009 Giro d’Italia, but skipped defending his pink jersey to make a fresh run at the Tour.
Joining him will be Gesink, who crashed out of his Giro debut last year. Menchov will have GC leadership of the team, while Gesink hunts for a mountain stage victory and plays a wild-card role.
Freire will largely be on his own in the sprints, though he should have at least one man to try to place him on the wheel in the closing kilometers of the bunch sprints.
With the start on home roads in Rotterdam, all eyes will be on Boom, who won a stage in his grand-tour debut last year at the Vuelta a España. The former cyclocross world champion will also have a free hand to try to sneak into breakaways.
Joining them will be Dutch riders Koos Moerenhout, Laurens Ten Dam and Maarten Tjallingii. Spanish climber Juanma Garate, winner of Mont Ventoux last year, will be there to provide extra support in the mountains while Grischa Niermann is a rolleur who can help on the flats. The team’s reserves are Pieter Weening and Bram Tankink.