|Revenge is written all over the Rabobank team which will conquer the Vuelta this year. With Tour Tumbler Levi Leipheimer as the main name in the team, the boys in orange and blue have one rider amongst them who for sure will have the urge to prove he is worth more credit that is given him by the teammanager. After his sad retreat from the Tour De Rooy ventilated some doubts in the Americans possiblities tot stay aboard the team. These remarks and the ones Leipheimer has to prove himself in the Vuelta sure will trigger the number eight in last years Tour.|
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.
The sprinter in the team of Theo de Rooy and Adri van Houwelingen is Dutch Steven de Jongh. Coming from the province of Nood-Holland he is one of wind and rain. De Jongh is a racer who feels at his best in one day races. A classic strong rider with a strong sprint. In 2002 his list with victories once again grew. As well as in Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Holland he took home the victoryflowers, which made him climb over 50 places in the UCI-ranking.
Steven de Jongh, born 25-11-1973, length 1.76 metres, weight 77 kg.
Another rider who allready prooved his value to the team is the in the northern Dutch city of Delfzijl (Groningen) born
Jan Boven . It is an old saying in the north of Holland, that says that nothing goes above Groningen. A saying that is prooved over and over by Jan Boven. He himself stays very modest. The team qualifies him as a hard worker to the end, which makes him a great value to the team. So far he did not succeed in winning but ended in the top five overall in the Tour de Mallorca, in the first stage of the Vuelta de Andalucia, the fourth stage of the 2000 Tour de France and the 2001 year edition of Veenendaal-Veenendaal.Jan Boven, born 28-02-1972, length 1.74 metres, weight 65 kg.
Australian born Matthew Hayman has both the Oz and Dutch nationality. This resulted in allready one national title. He is a man of utter differences. In the past he showed alleady that much great results even the leaders started working for hím. In this kind of manner he won the Tour de Mallorca. On the other hand Hayman is much more one for the classics. Above all the northern classics like Flandres and Paris-Roubaix. Due to some injuries he was out of competition for some time the season before last and made the 2002 one of recovery.
Matthew Hayman, born 20-04-1978, length 1.90 metres, weight 79 kg.
It was allready signaled out big, Karsten Kroon has great potential. The better allrounder and driven professional started of in his first ever Tour de France as in a dream. A debut to make jealous. Together with a bettering Erik Dekker on the watch out and a coaching teamleadercouple he wins the nailbiting nervous sprint in the 8 stage in Plouay. Tears come as he stands on the victorypodium realising what he has accomplished. Thoughts run thru his head, thoughts with a friend who recently died. His emotions broadcast worldwide, he wins hearts at the same pace. From this years Vuelta he will send his reflections on the race every evening to his own site .
Karsten Kroon, born 29-01-1976, length 1.80 metres, weight 66 kg.
The first Dane in the team is another newcomer, Michael Rasmussen . The in Italy living rider is not an unknown character in the peloton. Last year he defended the colors of the Danish team of CSC. He only rode his first season on the road in 2001. In the 2002 season he impressed the world in stageraces like the Giro d ‘Italia and the Tour of Burgos. His speciality too is climbing. Before he moved to roadracing he did do mountainbike and won the worldtitle in 1999.
Michael Rasmussen, born 01-06-1974, length 1.75 metres, weight 59 kg.
Son of excellent amateur racer Henk Mutsaars Ronald Mutsaars can be pictured as a racer who reads the race and prepares in studying the road to the finishline. It resulted last year in an excellent last two stages of the stage race Ster Elektrotoer and winning the white jersey for best young rider in this race. As an amateur the in Schijndel in the southern province of Noord-Brabant born Ronald himself noted down some good results. The year 2002 he used to mature in riding. In the coming year to his part in the teamplay will be working for the leaders, but in the long term the Brabander who can ride a season on a consistent level is expected to play a bigger role in the team.
Ronald Mutsaars, born 19-04-1979, length 1.76 metres, weigth 67 kg.
When you have the Gotthard (one bigger mountain ins Switserland...) outside your window from the day you are born , you have to be destined to be a good climber. While he still lives in the same small town of Altdorf in Switserland Beat Zberg still feels at home in the mountains. Last year he was accompanied by his brother Markus in the team, this year they will be opponents because the younger one changed teams to Gerolsteiner. The German Race Rund um den henninger Turm seems to be one made for Zberg. In the smaller stageraces too he does well. He feels at home in such ridings. Eventhough his main job is working for the team, he too has an occasional free role.
Beat Zberg, born 10-05-1971, length 1.80 metres, weight 71 kg.
His favorite hobby is to play guitar and keyboard, but in his ever so busy life as a professional racer Addy Engels does not have that much spare time left. When one looks at the qualities and qualifications of this other man from the north of Holland (Emmen) mountains are his territory. His more or less natural environment. His results in the Ardennes, Italy, Luxemburg and Spain point in the right direction. During the 2002 Giro d’Italia he in one mountainstage found himself ranked at the tenth spot. A good qualification resulting in an twenty-fourth place overall. Coming season will be Addy Engels’s fourth as a pro. The teammanagement is convinced real progression will take place. The very down to earth 25 year old let that not make him crazy, just let that stimulate him. Engels (26) turned pro in 2000 after winnign the nationals in the espoir category two years in a row. In his carreer he suffered some major setbacks. In 2001 he got injured heavyly when on a trainingsride his sadle broke and he ‘landed’ on the frame/pen.
Addy Engels, born 16-06-1977, length 1.81 metres, weight 63.5 kg .
So far Engels knows he sure did not do himself or his future right. He knows his contract is that much from sure not to be extended. Theo de Rooy adds that “nothing is certain yet, but Engels has to ride one super-Vuelta to have a chance to have a contract with the Rabobank next season. “It sure has been a long long time ago people have heard from me yes. The staying at home with the Tour was very disappointing, but I started again focussing on the Vuelta. I know I have to show myself to get a contract elsewhere. That will be a very tough job, but I am sure and convinced there will be chances to do so.” Engels though questions it a strong performance in the national tour of spain will have any effect on him staying with Rabobank. “i think it depends merely on whether any new riders will come.“, the diplomated schoolteacher says. “No-one will die over the fact I won’t be around in the pro-peloton next year.”, he adds down to earth as he is. “But it sure nags me. I know when Rabobank does not offer me a new contract, it too will be very hard to find a new team. I really would mind if all these years of investing in the sport will be over, just like that.”
With all the rumouring going around who will join the Dutch tradeteam one next season it is made clear to Engels some riders have to part. “When I fell ill this season, just before the Tour de Basque and the Wallone classics that for sure was bad bad timing, if one can call it that way. The Regio Tour and Poitou-Charente I did for preparation of the Vuelta did go well, and I hope I can be a great help for Levi Leipheimer. And secure my future too. It for sure is a nervewrecking and unsure period of time.”