As a cooperative bank Rabobank is a company without stockholders with equity that actually belongs to nobody (is that called mortmain in English?). Out of the idealism that created this strand of banking, it tries to share a part of the profits with the community. Sponsoring cycling is a popular choice among cooperative banks apparently, Caisse d’Epargne or Credit Acrigole anyone?
Rabobank also promotes cycling on a broader level. In the Netherlands it is one of the driving forces behind the Filevrije Dag (Day without traffic jams). It encourages its employees to use public transportation or the bike and sponsors the organization that tries to convince others too.
So what does that has to do with Podium Café?
Well, PdC has an inside scoop. I’ve been working at Rabobank for two months now. Sadly, one of the first things I learned was that as a back office guy the chance of being invited to races or meeting the Rabobank riders was rather slim at best. That’s why my interest was raised immediately when I learned that on the morning of the filevrije dag one of the rabo riders would join a group of commuters gathering in one of the towns surrounding Utrecht.
I currently live 50 km from where I work. After my first working week I checked the route between work and home and it was very nice. I can follow the river Hollandsche IJssel and ride through rural Holland for 50km with only a couple of traffic lights in my way. Still, I had not found time to commute to work by bike since. In addition, Rabobank announced that it would donate money for each km commuted by bike for a trio-bike to be used by visually impaired people.
The weather was crap on the 7th of October but the forecast was that it would change for the better during the early morning of the 8th. I decided to have a go. It was 6 AM, dark and there was a slight rain. Still, I found it invigorating to bike through the sleeping countryside. I heard roosters crowing, and cattle waking up. Some parts of the road were unlit so going through was a real adventure. I rode right through sleepy towns like Oudewater of Montfoort. It was pretty cold but also a lot of fun.
I reached the place where the pro-rider would turn up in time at 7.45 am with 54km in the legs. After a while more Rabobank employees arrived. The promised pro rider turned out to be Maurice Vrijmoed of the Rabo Continental team. 21 years old, he rode his first year with Rabo continental this year. He sees himself as a classics rider who likes to attack. A real nice bloke, very talkative too. I chatted with him a bit and he had some great stories.
As a first-year junior he won the National Championship. The next year he was getting ready to defend his title when he went out on a training ride the day before the race. He was fully dressed in his NC jersey and outfit. When he descended the Cauberg the fast way (right into Valkenburg) he had to hop over a hole in the road. The last thing he remembers before waking up in the hospital was his front wheel leaving its socket and continuing at its own. At 60 km p h! OUCH!!
At the Rabobank headquarters we were welcomed by a television crew and treated to some croissants and donuts. And some hot tea which I could really use by then because I was freezing. After taking a few pictures I went to take a shower.
Just remember, right now you’re thinking: "who is that guy next to Lopex" but in 5 years it will be "who is that guy next to the winner of De Ronde van Vlaanderen". ;-)
I'm officially a fan now. Go get them Maurice!
Btw, guess who accumulated the most CQ points of the two riders in the last picture?