• Robert Gesink and Laurens ten Dam at the 2015 Tour de Romandie (Sirotti)Source: Sirotti
Grand Tour Veteran Robert Gesink and 24-year-old Wilco Kelderman will be protected riders for the LottoNL-Jumbo WorldTour team at the 2015 Tour de France start in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Cycling Central

23 Jun 2015 - 1:05 PM  UPDATED 24 Jun 2015 - 10:18 AM

Joining the pair will be fellow Dutch riders Laurens ten Dam, Steven Kruijswijk, Bram Tankink, Tom Leezer, Jos van Emden, German Paul Martens and Sep Vanmarcke from Belgium.

"Together, we’re looking forward to a Tour de France which is even more special for us because of the start in our own country," sports director Nico Verhoeven said.

“We selected a balanced composition of our Tour de France team. Looking at the race profile, we didn’t target the bunch sprints as much as before.

"This year, we’re starting with more climbers. Robert and Wilco are our front men, but also Laurens and Steven proved themselves in big tours already.

“It’s obvious that a lot can happen in the first ten days of the Tour de France. With this group of four, we have less of a risk of losing our general classifications ambitions completely after the first part.

"We’re able to spread out our chances. That means that we’re not focusing on just one team leader. The main part of the race is in the second half, so when that period starts, we still have to be in good position.”

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Beset by injury and personal difficulties over the past few years, Gesink is returning to the 2010 form which saw him finish 4th overall at the Tour de France.

So far in 2015 he's placed 5th at the Amgen Tour of California, a race he won in 2012, and 9th at the recent Tour de Susse.

“The fact that we’re going to start in the Netherlands is wonderful and I’m very happy to be there,” Gesink said. “I have some great memories from the last time that the Tour de France started here and I can’t wait until the departure in Utrecht. But I’m really looking forward to the moment we leave Holland, to challenge the mountains.

“For the moment, I have to make sure that I have time enough to rest from my effort in the Tour de Suisse. Besides that, I’m planning to preview the stage to Plateau de Beille from my home in Girona.”

The talented Kelderman, who signalled his Grand Tour pedigree at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana where he finished 7th, will be making his debut at the Tour.

This season he has won the best young rider classification on the way to finishing 9th overall at the Volta a Catalunya and also placed 10 at the Flèche Wallonne, proving his single day racing credentials.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Kelderman said. “I’ve been preparing specifically for the Tour de France the last five weeks. I’ve had a training camp at altitude and rode the Criterium du Dauphiné as preparation.

“I’m looking forward to the start in Utrecht and to the stage to Alpe d’Huez the most. The next week and a half, I’m going to do some specific training on my time trial bike and rest so that I will be fresh at the start.”

LottoNL-Jumbo for the 2015 Tour de France
Robert Gesink (NED), Wilco Kelderman (NED), Laurens ten Dam (NED), Steven Kruijswijk (NED), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL), Bram Tankink (NED), Tom Leezer (NED), Jos van Emden (NED) and Paul Martens (GER).