Crack Dutch team Rabobank, which numbers SA ace, Robert Hunter, among its star-studded line-up, has announced its team for the Tour de France and Robert Hunter will, sadly, not be on the start line this year.
Oscar Freire is also absent in the team, but it should still be a very competitive one.
Team directors Erik Breukink and Frans Maassen have selected Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Karsten Kroon, Bram de Groot, Marc Lotz, Michael Rasmussen, Levi Leipheimer, Marc Wauters and Grischa Niermann. Hunter, who won two stages in the Tour de Suisse, has been appointed as first reserve.
"For the line up of our team, we have looked at the qualities of Rasmussen, Leipheimer and Boogerd for the mountain stages plus an attacking way of competing in the other stages," said Erik Breukink. "Now that were missing Freire, unfortunately, were out for the bunch sprints, but for the other stages we have the qualities."
In terms of the general classification, Breukink added, "we will try to bring Leipheimer and Rasmussen as far as possible."
Of the team, Rasmussen is the only rider never to have ridden in the Tour. All the others have 42 Tour starts between them, with 31 finishes. Past yellow jersey wearer Marc Wauters is the most experienced of the team and is starting his 12th Tour, while Erik Dekker is ready for his 10th. The members of the squad have also accumulated eight stage wins between them, namely Dekker (4), Boogerd (2), Kroon (1) and Wauters (1).