This is the band of guys set to chase each other down in July:
- Wilco Kelderman. Young ever improving stageracer set for a serious TdF attempt after a good Giro in 2014. Not so hot in races before this year and has had some back issues I think.
- Robert Gesink. The Bad-luck-Condor himself. Back on track, the only way is up and things look brilliantly promising after a strong Suisse. We all know how this ends. In tears at some point.
- Steven Kruijswijk. Just off an incredible comeback to old form in the Giro after years of injury problems. Chances of not running out of steam mid-Tour seem minimal but he will be useful as long as he's useful.
- Laurens ten Dam. Strong climber but looks on a lower level than when he was top 10 in the TdF. Should be relegated to helper at some point.
- Sep Vanmarcke. There is a Roubaix stage, the man is a God, you do the math. A handy helper and stage-chaser for the rest of the three weeks.
- Bram Tankink. Probably one of the top 5 strongest flatland helpers in the pro peloton.
- Tom Leezer. A strong sprint helper but there isn't much of a sprinter here to help. Will be babysitting GC captains instead.
- Paul Martens. A few years ago we would have said he'd be an ace for the early Ardennes-type stages (of which there are plenty) but that hasn't really happened so much lately has it? Another allround helper for flatland work and babysitting duties.
- Jos van Emden. Most anonymous of the nine. Pure muscle/worker.
Who didn't make the team?
-Sprinters. No Hofland, no Tom van Asbroek. Unlike Other-Lotto, LottoNL have realized that they can't spread themselves too thin. They have four GC guys on the team and they're sending them all to France. This means sprinters get to stay home and pretend like they could have done something against Cav and Kristoff if they had the chance.
This is four GC riders who theoretically all could do well but no one is too confident about any of them so chuck'em all in and let's see what sticks. It's not the worst strategy in the world unless they start getting each others way but that could never happen on Jumbo/Rabo could it? Besides, with the TdF start i the Netherlands it doesn't hurt to have all their local stars on the startline, regardless of how it works over three weeks. Kelderman is a gamble but a good one, if he is back to health he has shown that he can come to a GT in the right shape and perform over three weeks. Kruijswijk can't last long presumably but he may be good for the Pyrenees and the guy has been in the shadows for so long that he should relish the chance to back at full force. Not the worst thing in the world.
I've been around the block for too long to make any predictions about Gesink. Let's talk about him if and when he gets through this unscathed. It's for the best.