Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
YANQING, China (VN) — Robert Gesink (Belkin) will skip the Giro d’Italia and return his focus to the Tour de France next year. The Dutchman, who was fifth overall in the 2010 Tour, will pair with Bauke Mollema.
“I’ll race the Tour, the most important race of the year. That’s where me and my team want to be at our best,” Gesink told VeloNews. “I’ll work with Mollema. Everyone knows how dangerous the Tour is so it’s a good idea to start with two guys who can go for GC there.”
The Tour de France starts July 5 in Yorkshire, England. Organizer ASO will present the entire 2014 route later this month in Paris.
Gesink focused on the classification in the Giro d’Italia this year before going to the Tour de France to help Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam. A mix of bad weather and sickness saw him abandon the Giro along with pre-race favorites Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
Wilco Kelderman, the best young rider in last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, will instead lead Belkin at the Giro d’Italia next year and give Gesink a clear run for the Tour. Gesink, speaking at the Tour of Beijing, said he would clarify his program over the winter. He will race Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico and mostly likely skip the Ardennes Classics.
“It’s still the Tour of Beijing but of course you think about next year,” the tall blond explained at the start of stage 2.
“I did the Giro and then you start the Tour a little tired and it doesn’t work out for the GC. It was also not the plan to race for the GC; Mollema was focusing on that. My Giro didn’t go well, but you get sick sometimes. … You can try to do a good Giro but in the end, it’s really all about the Tour, especially in Holland.”
Gesink has had his share of bad luck in the Grand Boucle. He broke his wrist in 2009, falling on the descent of the Côte de Treilles in the fifth stage. He fell, again in the fifth stage in 2011, suffered hip, elbow and knee problems, but finished 33rd. In 2012, he was part of the Metz Massacre, a massive pileup that forced 13 riders to abandon, banged his ribs, had difficulty breathing and abandoned later in the race. It was insult to injury as he had fought to return from a training accident that resulted in a fractured femur.
Gesink is a complete package though. He won the Amgen Tour of California (2012) and the Tour of Oman (2011) and took victories in one-day races Giro dell’Emilia (2010). Last month, he won the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec. With Mollema, Belkin will have plenty of muscle to flex at the Tour.
“We have the guys to do a good GC there,” added Gesink. “It’s the great idea.”