Rabobank Development reloads for 2014The Rabobank Development Team is going full-Dutch for 2014 after their move to being run fully under the KNWU (Royal Dutch Cycling Federation) for 2013 after Rabobank pulled sponsorship from the flagship male World Tour squad. Even with the Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp), Daan Olivier (Argos-Shimano) and the German pair of Rick Zabel (BMC) and Ruben Zepuntke leaving after this year, the team has already loaded up with seven new signings in the form of five junior riders and two U23 riders.
The team, after joining together with Rabobank Off-Road this last offseason, will contain more cyclocross talent to accent Mike Teunissen and Lars van der Haar.
Martijn Budding (Enertherm-BKCP) was the eternal second to Raymond Poulidor's grandson, Mathieu van der Poel, on last season's junior cyclo-cross circuit. Budding finished on the podium in 13 races (+ the World Cup overall) last year, including the World Championships in Louisville, which is commendable seeing as van der Poel was a literal buzz saw by winning every race. Naturally, his focus will be on cyclocross but if he races on the road, he could possibly crossover to the road.
Nino Honigh (Enertherm-BKCP) is the reining junior pursuit and points race national champion on the track. Seemingly a jack-of-all trades, Honigh dabbled in nearly every discipline of cycling with some success. The kid from Noord-Holland has had a relatively successful year on the road this year with an 8th place finish at the Junior Paris-Roubaix and 4th on the opening stage of the Tour of Istria Nations Cup.
Cees Bol (DTS Zaandam) is another Noord-Holland talent that'll be joining the team for next year. While no relation to Belkin World Tour rider Jetse Bol, Cees is the current junior champion of Noord-Holland on the road.
Sam Oomen (TWC Pijnenburg) is perhaps the most talent junior of this group on the road. The current junior time trial champion of the Netherlands and the Zuid-Oost province, Oomen will be the new TT/GC promise on the Rabobank squad and will follow in the footsteps of many before him such as Dylan van Baarle, Wilco Kelderman and many more. Oomen won last year's GP Rüebliland overall ahead of BMC Development rider Tom Bohli and Ilnar Arslanov along with the stage three TT. This year, Oomen placed 9th overall in the Junior Peace Race this year, helping his Dutch National teammate Mathieu van der Poel to a 3rd place overall.
Andre Looij (WV Viking Waterland) has done something this year that not many other junior racers can say this season in that he beat Danish powerhouse Mads Pedersen in a race. Granted it was only once, the Ronde Van Het Lage Land, but the performance definitely shows the potential that he has. Looij was a triple national champion on the track this winter by winning the omnium, scratch and 1 km TT. Looij could be a sprinting talent for the future as he has a few wins and other results in bunch gallops.
The team also went after two U23 riders, both of whom come from the WV de Jonge Renner.
Timo Roosen was the winner in the Tour de Berlin opening stage where he was in the leading breakaway with eventual race wiiner Mathias Møller. Roosen also placed well in the Carpathian Couriers Tour in early May where he finished 2nd in the prologue and 3rd in the hilly stage three, once again in a breakaway. On the domestic front, Roosen put up a couple of wins including in Limburgs Mooiste.
Jeroen Meijers has been trying to find his feet in the U23 ranks after a pretty successful juniors career that saw him place high on the GC in races such as the GP General Patton and Driedaagse van Axel. Meijers first U23 season with the Parkhotel Valkenburg team was nothing to write home about but this year, he has experienced better results. Jeroen won the first stage of the Carpathian Couriers Tour in a reduced sprint and went on to finish the race 3rd overall. He also won the Wim Hendriks Trofee on the domestic side of things. Meijers used to be more serious about cyclocross in his younger days but more recently he only dabbles in the discipline with some decent rides.
While it is a good time for the Rabobank Development team, it is sad news for another Low Countries squad.
Leopard-Trek to disband in 2014After having some great success over the last season and a half, it was reported by the Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien that the development team would be disbanding at season's end after the Radioshack-Leopard World Tour license was sold by team owner Flavio Becca to cycling industry giant Trek. The team has amassed 23 wins and dozens more podium finishes in the past year and a half. Last year's squad saw the team graduate three riders to professional contracts in Bob Jungels (Radioshack-Leopard), Julian Kern (Ag2r) and Alexander Pliuschin (IAM).
An interesting tidbit in the article was that four riders from the Leopard-Trek team would be moving to the Trek World Tour squad for 2014. The four riders are:
- Eugenio Alafaci - prolific top 10 finisher (24 this year alone) and winner of the Omloop der Kempen.
- Fabio Silvestre - winner of the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux overall; stage winner in the Tour de Normandie, Circuit des Ardennes and Ronde de l'Oise in 2013.
- Sean de Bie - 4th, U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen; 2nd La Côte Picarde; 3rd, Arno Wallaard Memorial. 2nd, U23 Ronde (2012); 1st, stage Toscana-Coppa della Nazioni (2011).
- Kristian Haugaard - 5th, U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen; 4th La Côte Picarde; 1st, stage Fleche du Sud; 2nd prologue and 9th overall, U23 Peace Race; 7th overall Istrian Spring Trophy.
It will be interesting to see if these signings turn out to be true. If so, that is a lot of talent headed to the Trek World Tour team for 2014. I have doubts about this simply because of the fact that I am sure some Bontrager riders will be headed for the Trek team and a World Tour team cannot have that many neo-pro riders on their rosters.