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Dutch Tour de France 2016 prospects

21st June 2016

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman, by denismenchov08, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Which Dutch riders will shine brightest in the Tour de France 2016, and can any of them win the event? Cycling commentator for Dutch television Gio Lippens gave his assessment to nos.nl.

Wilko Kelderman, Robert Gesink, and Dylan Groenewegen all ride for Lotto Jumbo, and Bauke Mollema is at Trek-Segafredo. These riders could produce strong performances in July.

While Steven Kruijswijk, who had such a brilliant Giro d'Italia, was in Lotto Jumbo's plans for the Tour de France at the start of June, his name was not on the long list published by the team on 7th June 2016. It seems that his goals for the rest of the season will be the Olympic road race and the Vuelta a Espana, and he won't ride the Tour de France.

Wilko Kelderman (Lotto Jumbo)

Wilko Kelderman is one of the Lotto Jumbo's GC riders. He wore the leader's jersey in the Tour de Suisse, ultimately finishing 8th, at 2min38. Lippens says, 'He tends to have patchy form from day to day. When he got the leader's jersey, we all began to think 'maybe he's going to follow Hennie Kuiper and win the Tour de Suisse. But one day later, he sank back on the road to the Rettenbachgletscher. Then the next day, he did well in the time trial. And on Sunday, he lost another minute on the top GC riders, ending up eighth overall.'

'I think that inconsistency is the biggest obstacle to his having a really good Tour de France. We shouldn't expect him to do a Kruijswijk.'

Robert Gesink (Lotto Jumbo)

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink at the Tour de Suisse 2016, by Edward Madden, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The question mark over Robert Gesink is whether he'll recover from hitting his head on Stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse, in time for the Tour de France. When he wasn't selected for the Olympic Games, the Tour de France became his main goal. But his head injury is healing slower than hoped, and last Sunday, he had to stop after an hour of a training ride in Girona. The situation is being monitored on a daily basis with medical staff.

Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo)

Bauke Mollema

Bauke Mollema, by filip bossuyt, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Bauke Mollema's preparation hasn't been perfect, as he abandoned half-way through the last stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné with a sore throat. He had lost 28 minutes to Thibaut Pinot on the previous day's queen stage.

Lippens says, 'I'm not too worried about Mollema abandoning the Dauphiné. There were a few riders who stopped there. Mollema himself said that there was no need to panic - it was just a question of waiting 3 days for the illness to pass, then training hard again.'

'But with Mollema, you never know. Until now, we know that he can do a top 10 ride in the Tour. But can he do better than that? That's the most important thing. He'll have a couple more strong teammates this time, who are specifically tasked with keeping him out of trouble on the flat. But then he needs to show that he can be consistent over the 3 weeks.'

Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto Jumbo)

Dylan Groenewegen is the Lotto Jumbo rider with the most stage wins, even though it is his first season with the team. But can he win stages of the Tour de France? 'His performances to date are much better than we'd expected,' says directeur sportif Nico Verhoeven. 'Then you adjust your ambitions. If we take Dylan to the Tour, we'll have someone who can finish off the team's work, and win stages.'

Lippens says, 'Assume that Groenewegen rides the Tour, and that he gets a sprint train, which he deserves with his performances. Then you've got two horses to bet on. On the one hand, Groenewegen's sprinting, and on the other hand Kelderman for the GC. I believe that's a good development.'

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