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Preparation the Armstrong way
By Anita van Crey
Date: 7/2/2003
Preparation the Armstrong way
Rabobank is this year going to conquer the 100-year old with Michael Boogerd (Hol), Bram de Groot (Hol) , Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa), Robert Hunter (Rsa), Levi Leipheimer (Usa), Marc Lotz (Hol), Grischa Niermann (Ger), Marc Wauters (Bel) and Remmert Wielinga (Hol)

Three times in the team after being send away twice. That is what has happened to Remmert Wielenga . He started of as a junior in orange and blue, but was voted ‘not good enough’ at the end of the season. So he went to an (another) amateurteam. Did well there and was asked back to the boys in orange and blue. This time as an amateur. Same procedure went on at the end of the season, again with the same result of ‘not good enough’. So Wielenga decided to try his luck elswhere. Elsewhere became abroad, with the De Nardi team in Italia. Did some fine results which got the attention of the Rabobankmanagement, who asked him to come back. The 24 year old born in the southern city of Eindhoven decided to sign a contract and made his move back to homesoil. His role in the team will be one of a helper. Wielenga is down to earth enough to do this with all in his power to succeed. His climbing abilities will come in handy there. On this field he allready showed his well doing in winning the King of the Mountain overall standings at the Uniqua Classics in Austria.
Remmert Wielenga, born 27-04-1978, length 1.81 metres, weight 66 kg.

“Maybe I will finish in Paris at the utter kost end of my strenghts “, Wielenga told the Dutch newspaper Brabants Dagblad. “Or in the top ten of just glad to have breached Paris. But I will go for more than taht. The white jersey for the best youngster is one I really would like to win. And who knows, a stage. “. Never before the 25 year old from the city of Eindhoven did ride a gran’ tour, but amitious he is nevertheless. The eight teammates who will accompany him this Saturday at the start in Paris know the madness, the crazyness, the shananiggans that comes and goes with it. For Wielenga it is all new. An obstacle that will not be. Since his remarkable results in the Dauphiné Liberé, where he did climb with the best, it was clear he had good chances to go to the Tour. “The teammanagement does not put any pressure on me.” Wielenga explains. “I just hope I can add some to the team. “

Never before Wielinga did race more than ten days in a row. “The first days I fors ure have tob e very alert. The Tour just goes harder, is more hectic, the media is ervywhere. Everybody has warned me for that. Than we reach the mountains, that will be fun…. In the Dauphiné it felt like it still was february, I still was that fresh. I did not do that much races up to now, due to a knee injury. You can say I prepared myself in the Lance Armstrong way for the Tour.”

24 July 2002, one day Michael Boogerd will remember untill eternity. The sixteenth stage of the Tour de France, via the Col de Galibier, the Col de la Madeleine to the finish at La Plagne. The so called ‘Queens”-stage. In an astonishings style and impressive breakaway Michael Boogerd rides towards an unforgetable victory. Without loosing his spontanity the thirty year old born in The Hague allready prooved he is much more than a typical big mouth. In various races his potential allready showed, potential and will which got in the way sometimes too. His results in last years Tour de France were the best he achieved so far. In the overall classifications he reached to the twelveth rank. Only one moment of doubt in the head of the unbeatable Lance Armstrong turned out to be on the base of a dareall solo succeeding in raised arms at the end. Boogerds climbingpace in this stage resisted the ‘sprinting’ followers. At the last Saturday of La Grande Boucle he delivered an outspoken timetrail. It looks like the coming of Levi Leipheimer released a always over-nervous Boogerd from a lot of pressure.
Michael Boogerd, born 28-05-1972, length 1.77 metres, weight 63 kg.

Two times world champion Oscar Freire won his first rainbowjersey as a quit unknown young rider in 1999. The repeat in 2001 prooved to be a consistent winner, The switch to the Rabobank fits fine in the vision of team and rider to compete at more than one front. Despite his frele looks the Spaniard is a rider whos capacities and qualities are beyond questioning. He can do well in as well the classics as in stage-races. And he allready prooved to be an excellent sprinter.
Oscar Freire Gomez, born 15-02-1976, length 1.71 metres, weight 63 kg.

One of the first time the name Bram de Groot was mentioned in the media to the bigger cyclinginterested world was some years ago when he suffered a major fall in his first Tour de France. The first looks were awfull ones, but the eager youngster recovered fast from his wounds. So far he has no wins on his conto, but impressed one allerady with big and outspoken talent. The 2002 season was one with allmost no injury, whilst bad luck accompanied him before that time. His funny faces tells good sense of humour and a joyfull spirit. Those human qualities are helping the man De Groot go on, even when things go bad for a while. Help him to go on and show what others allready see in him, a man with big abilities.
Bram de Groot, born 18-12-1974, length 1.73 metres, weight 67 kg.

Dutch Rabobank has found another stranger to accomplish the team. Worldcitizin (born in South Africa, living in Como in la bella Italia) Robert Hunter is another newcomer in orange and blue. His outstanding performances in the 2002 Tour de France played a decisive role in contracting the twenty-five year old. Hunters speciality is empahised on the sprint. In this territory in 2002 he could match his qualities with the big names in sprint. Next to this abilities the South African is not won shy of hard work.
Robert Hunter, born 22-04-1977, length 1.78 metres, weight 72 kg.

This season American Levi Leipheimer again will focuss to the full on the Tour de France. “Again I will be preparing myself for that in stage races like the Tour de Mediteranee and some races in mainly Spain. It will be in headlines the same like I did last year. Other goal is to develop myself once again. Cycling is growing bigger now in the US too. It would be great when we would have more races like the San Francisco Grand Prix, more opportunities for people to see riders and their heroes. As they will take place I for sure will compete their too.” Leipheimer is the more silent type who lets his results speak. His coming to the Rabobankteam took a lot of pressure of of the shoulders of Michael Boogerd. The twenty nine year old himself too rode an ok Tour. The expectations on the forehand were high. But the 2002 season must be seen mostly in the light of adjusting. American with German ancestors, living in Santa Rosa (USA) and Girona (Spain) can be classified in the ‘good timetrailer’ catergory. Next to that he shows too climbingaspirations. These two specialities brought him to the victory-flowers in the Route de Sud (with winning the clim-time-trail and the overall).
Levi Leipheimer, born 24-10-1973, length 1.70 metres, weight 62 kg.

Being born in THE cyclingtown in Holland, Valkenburg, twentynine year old Marc Lotz is seen as an allrounder. Even though he has had the infamous Cauberg in his backyard it is quit surprising to see his valuable climbing capacities. His teammates value him all the way through to the final. Due to his role of helper his list of carreerhighlights is still a bit on the pale side, but this one of the tallest men in the bunch says himself: “In working in the mountains and finales for the leaders in the team I learn every time, learn a lot.”
Marc Lotz, born 19-10-1973, length 1.89, weight 76 kg.

A modest German is an image that fits well on Grischa Niermann . The in Hannover born and living pro is especially a man for the bigger stageraces. Being a not that bad climber in the Tour de France he did a great job in helping Boogerd and Leipheimer. The by the teamdirectors expected bigger breakthrough so far has not happened yet. But still the believes in Niermanns possibilities is there. Although he is thought mentally strong the coming of a second German rider is hoped to be an emotional backup for the twentyseven year.
Grischa Niermann, born 03-11-1975, length 1.78 metres, weight 74 kg.

He had one of his finer days in winning the Tour stage in Antwerp and being able to wear the maillot jaune when the Tour crossed his hometown Lummen. Marc Wauters has allready a long history as a professional. It is his sixth year in the Rabobankjersey. Allthough he can be qualified as a can-do-it-all his mere speciality is timetrailing. But also long escapes suit him fine.
Marc Wauters, born 21-02-1969, length 1.86 metres, weight 74 kg.

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