tuesday 08 January 2008 at 21h50

While Theo Bos was doing his rounds during the Six days in Rotterdam, the Rabobank Pro Team 2008 was presented in the same city by Humberto Tan (a Dutch sports presenter on TV).
A few new riders, a new organisation, the riders board and the 'rider's régisseur' are some of the new things.


The team

The Rabobank Pro Team recruited Michiel Elijzen (coming from Cofidis), Paul Martens (coming from Skil Shimano and the only foreigner among the new riders), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step), Laurens ten Dam (Unibet.com), Tom Leezer and Bauke Mollema (both from the Rabobank Continental team) as its new riders. Of course the team will keep the most important riders of last year's team including Denis Menchov, Thomas Dekker, Oscar Freire, Robert Gesink, Sebastian Langeveld, Koos Moerenhout and Joost Posthuma.

Rabobank didn't recruit real top riders and that was a deliberate decision: in the new climat (see 'the organisational aspects' below) the team wants the young riders who are close to break through (like Robert Gesink and Thomas Dekker) to really get the chance to break through and not to restrain them because they have to ride for yet another leader.
Thomas Dekker at the start of the prologue of the Tour de France 2007 in London
Thomas Dekker at the start of the prologue of the Tour de France 2007 in London

In consultation with the team management, Denis Menchov has decided not to defend his title in the Vuelta a España. Instead, he will do the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France this year since he indicated he performs better in a great tour ... after having done one before. This way Menchov uses the Giro to prepare his Tour de France 2008 where he hopes to have his performance peak!

The organisational aspects

Henri van der Aat, the team's interim manager until the end of February (after that date he will work on international affairs and continue to advise the team), yesterday presented the current situation and new things in the organisation of the team. After the Rasmussen case and the report of the Vogelzang committee on this case we already knew there would be some changes and the interim manager now elaborated these in collaboration with Rabobank's new manager Harold Knebel.

First of all each rider will get a rider's régisseur (which means the riders will be managed more strictly and the team management will be aware of what the riders do during the year and where they do their training) who will be the first contact point for this rider and who can provide the things the rider needs. The keywords Van der Aat used for this rider's régisseur are innovation, the team, organisation, merital, training, coaching, stage analysis, communication, equipment, finance and parcours.
The rider's régisseurs - the team managers: Erik Breukink for the leaders of the team, Erik Dekker for the young riders and Frans Maassen and Adri van Houwelingen - will meet each month to discuss the progress of each rider and based on that decide what should be improved for each rider and decide who will ride which race.

Furthermore Van der Aat indicated the team itself needs to be improved and that there should be a better team building with things like a riders board presided by Jan Boven (who will ride his 13th season for Rabobank this year) and Grischa Niermann and Juan-Antonio Flecha as other riders representatives. The team staff has also been extended with a bigger medical staff, trainers staff and more other coaches.

Finally the new season will bring more power training and more training camps.

The ambition of the team is to transform one of the best cycling teams into one of the best sport teams in the world.

From an organisational point of view this means that the team switches from a three men management to one director (Harold Knebel) with a management team reporting to him. The management team will meet at least once a month and will -among other things- discuss possible transfers from the Continental to the ProTeam.


Michael Boogerd's role

Michael Boogerd who left the team as a professional cyclist last year will stay involved with the team: for the bank for promotional purposes and for the team in a role which is still to be determined. After a specific training the team will determine what will be the best role for him in the team based on an assessment he participated in.

The international cycling world and measures against doping

Henri van der Aat also discussed the situation in the international cycling world where the different organisations such as UCI, A.S.O. and the national cycling federations keep fighting in public. He indicated that Rabobank doesn't want to choose between UCI and A.S.O. but only wants to make choices which are best for cycling in general. He also indicated that the ProTour in its current form doesn't really correspond anymore to what Rabobank would want it to be.

Bram Tankink just before the Tour de France stage on 26 July 2007, at that time riding for Quick.StepConcerning the fight against doping and the measures which are necessary to implement the biological passport he reminded the people who attended the presentation that the ProTour teams will pay the dope tests themselves and that UCI controlled experts will test all ProTour riders 2 times a month in out of competition blood- and urine tests. In order to do so these experts must know where to find the riders and that means they have to provide their famous whereabouts which led to Michael Rasmussen's exclusion in the Tour de France last year. Rabobank decided to use the ADAMS system for the whereabouts registration from now on and riders can thus provide their whereabouts themselves on the Internet and from the end of this month also by phone or SMS. In ADAMS the different controlling bodies can at all times access an overview of each rider's whereabouts and where the riders so far had to provide their whereabouts to different organisations with ADAMS this is no longer necessary. The sports directors and team manager can also check the information of their riders in ADAMS.

Concerning the use of this system, Bram Tankink said that this heavily impacts the rider's privacy but that if this works for all riders (so not only Rabobank riders), it's a good change in the fight against doping: it's horrible for the riders but if we don't do this the spectators and sponsors will leave us standing alone.

Henri van der Aat indicated that the cycling sport might have an even tougher time with the biological passport and the dope tests necessary for it since not all teams use ADAMS yet and that in some teams other than Rabobank this could cause trouble similar to those Rabobank had with Rasmussen.

A summary of the team presentation on Rabo SportTV

For more information, check out the following videos on the NOS website (in Dutch):
> Henri van der Aat's full speech
> Interview sports director Erik Breukink
> An impression of the team presentation and an interview with Bram Tankink

door Thomas Vergouwen
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this publication is published in: Cycling general (except Tour de France) | Marketing | Team presentation 2008


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    | crovok | Friday 14 October 2022 om 10h55

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