By Sophie Smith
Dutchman Robert Gesink will spearhead the Rabobank team at the Tour de France this year.
The ProTeam has today released its nine-man outfit that includes three-time stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez and Australian lead-out specialist turned marquee sprinter Mark Renshaw.
Renshaw may have to rely more on his race nous in the flat stage finishes, most of which fall within the first week, with Rabobank focused on a strong overall classification finish in Gesink as well as Bauke Mollema.
Sanchez is set to look for his own stage win opportunities whilst Steven Kruijswijk is eligible for the white jersey competition in what will be his Tour debut.
Gesink finished fourth overall at the Tour de Suisse last week and won the Amgen Tour of California in May after a gutsy Stage 7 victory to Mount Baldy. The 26-year-old was fifth in the Stage 8 time trial in Switzerland and fourth in the Stage 4 race against the clock in California. The Tour this season includes a prologue and two time trials and Gesink's consistency in the discipline may prove an advantage to his overall ambitions.
"He's shown that he's going well," said sports director Nico Verhoeven in a team statement. "We hope that he'll continue along the same lines.
"We will just have to see how it all goes, especially given that the GC riders from the Dauphiné are going to be there too. Still, we're aiming for solid GC standings for both Robert and Bauke Mollema."
Renshaw moved to Rabobank this season to chase his own opportunities after working as chief lead-out man for Mark Cavendish (Sky) at the now defunct HTC-Highroad.
The 29-year-old celebrated his first stage win of the season, within his new role and team, at the Tour of Turkey in April. He finished a respectable 21st at Milan-San Remo, after failing to finish previous editions, and notched top five performances at both the Giro d'Italia and last week's Ster ZLM Toer.
Renshaw has been working closely with compatriot Graeme Brown as well as Lars Boom in sprints this season but neither has been named in Rabobank's Tour line-up that is also missing Theo Bos, who fractured vertebrae in a crash at the Giro and intends to race the Tour of Poland instead.
"Even without a proper lead-out, Renshaw is excellent at positioning himself and finishing top five in bunch sprints. Furthermore, Mark has shown that he is a team player and is of enormous value to the team," Verhoeven said.
The Tour begins on June 30 in Liege, Belgium.
Rabobank 2012 Tour de France team: Laurens ten Dam, Robert Gesink, Steven Kruijswijk, Bauke Mollema, Mark Renshaw, Luis Leon Sanchez, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Maarten Wynants. Sports directors: Nico Verhoeven, Adri van Houwelingen, Frans Maassen.
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