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Speaking at his team presentation in 2012, Rabobank general manager Harold Knebel stated that he has “a lot of faith in the coming season, which of course has added lustre because it is an Olympic year and because of the World Championships on home turf. As regards the [WorldTour] team classification, our goal for 2012 remains being in the top five.”

A key year for Rabobank, then, now in their 17th season of sponsorship, and if there have been very few changes to their team line-up in preparation for this, all of them have been significant.

Rabobank have just one new addition to their 2012 line-up, Mark Cavendish’s former lead out man Mark Renshaw, whilst former triple World Champion and longstanding Rabobank rider Oscar Freire has quit for Katusha. Also no longer with Holland’s oldest bike team is Pieter Weening, winner of stage five of the 2011 Giro d’Italia, which he then led for four days, and now with GreenEdge.
So for the bulk of its Grand Tour overall classification and weeklong stage race results, Rabobank will look to the same group of Dutch riders as last year.

All, curiously enough, were born in the mid 1980s, as last year. There’s the brilliant climber Robert Gesink, long tipped as the Netherlands most promising racer of his generation, whilst Steven Kruijswijk, who came within a whisker of winning the Giro’s Best Young Rider prize last June, is now expected to do well alongside Gesink in his Tour debut. Bauke Mollema, who secured the team’s best GT result in 2011 - fourth overall in the Vuelta as well as the points prize - Dutch national time trial champion Stef Clement and the impressively versatile Lars Boom are all regular contributors to Rabobank’s list of victories, too.

Whilst retaining a strong Spanish core group of riders (Luis Leon Sanchez’ stage victory in the Tour de France was a rare highpoint in a difficult race for Rabobank), signing Renshaw after Freire quit is an intriguing move. Rabobank already have some classy sprinters-cum-all-rounders, amongst them former track star Theo Bos and former U-23 World Champion Michael Matthews of Australia. But Renshaw’s vast experience working for Cavendish will surely raise the Dutch squad’s collective game in the bunch sprints even higher.
BOL Jetse NED 08.09.1989
BOOM Lars NED 30.12.1985
BOS Theo NED 22.08.1983
BRESCHEL Matti DEN 31.08.1984
BROWN Graeme AUS 09.04.1979
CLEMENT Stef NED 24.09.1982
FLENS Rick NED 11.04.1983
GARATE Juan Manuel ESP 24.04.1976
GESINK Robert NED 31.05.1986
KRUIJSWIJK Steven NED 07.06.1987
LEEZER Thomas NED 26.12.1985
MARTENS Paul GER 26.10.1983
MOLLEMA Bauke NED 26.11.1986
NIERMANN Grischa GER 03.11.1975
RENSHAW Mark AUS 22.10.1982
SANCHEZ GIL Luis Leon ESP 24.11.1983
TANKINK Bram NED 03.12.1978
TEN DAM Laurens NED 13.11.1980
TJALLINGII Maarten NED 05.11.1977
VAN EMDEN Jos NED 18.02.1985
VAN WINDEN Dennis NED 02.12.1987
VERMELTFOORT Coen NED 11.04.1988
WYNANTS Maarten BEL 13.05.1982
KELDERMAN Wilco NED 25.03.1991
MATTHEWS Michael AUS 26.09.1990
SLAGTER Tom Jelte NED 01.07.1989
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