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Rabobank with 6 new riders - Menchov will not defend Vuelta title

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07.01.2008/ Rabobank signed 6 new riders for the upcoming season. After a difficult year with the Rasmussen affair and the fall out of it, the Dutch Pro-Tour team introduced its 2008 roster.

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Erik Breukink during todays team presentation (© Cyclingheroes)

The Rabobank Pro-Tour team signed 6 new riders for the 2008 season.  Tom Leezer and Bauke Mollema,overall winner of the 2007 Tour de L'Avenir came over from the Rabobank Continental team. Laurens ten Dam came from Unibet.com, Bram Tankink from Quick-Step and German rider Paul Martens from Skil-Shimano. Michiel Elijzen came back to Rabobank after he rode two years with Cofidis.

The team also announced that Denis Menchov will not defend his Vuelta title. The Russian rider will start at the Giro d'Italia to prepare for the Tour de France. Menchov will also start at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Sports director Erik Breukink said: "He will race a programm that he wished for himself." Breukink continued by saying: "After a grand tour Denis is able to keep his form over a long period, he cam even improve it, that's the reason he will start at the Giro." Denis Menchov said: "I want to try something new in my preparation for the Tour de France. That is the most importantant race."

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Denis Menchov will change his Tour preparation (© Cyclingheroes)

Thomas Dekker will focus on the Ardennes classics Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After that his main goal will be the Tour de France. Dekker said: "I think that I will be in great shape automaticly after the Tour." Dekker said he will miss Michael Boogerd. Dekker shared rooms with Boogerd during many races in the last two years. "Yes I will mis him a lot but we all know that we have to retire at some point. That's life."

Erik Breukink announced that the Rabo riders don't have the freedom the use to have anymore. One of the new measures is that each rider will have his own 'riders director'. Sports directors Erik Breukink, Erik Dekker, Frans Maassen and Adri van Houwlingen will be in charge over certain riders and will watch over these riders. This is one of the things that have to prevent a similar case like the Rasmussen whereabouts scandal in 2007. Breukink will watch over the captains and protected riders. Dekker will watch over the young guns of the team. Breukink said: "The new approach is not a guarantee but it is an improvement." From this year on the riders will not only have to report their 'where abouts'  to the UCI but also the team. Rabobank also joined the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible). The MPCC basically is about implementing the Code Éthique with no argument. All MPCC members have approved the biological passport and the ADAMS system (WADA's Anti-Doping Administration & Management System).

Breukink admitted that he was "a bit" damaged by the Rasmussen affair. Team manager Theo de Rooij stepped down after the affair and press officer Jacob Bergsma was sacked by the team but Breukink, who is financially independent, decided to stay. Breukink said: "I don't think that I made such big mistakes that would justify a resignation. Of course there were moments I thought about quitting. The impact of this affair was huge. For me, but especially for my family."

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Rabobank Pro-Tour team 2008 roster
 
Maurico Alberto Ardila, Jan Boven, Graeme Brown, Bram de Groot, Marc de Maar, Thomas Dekker, Michiel Elijzen, Theo Eltink, Juan Antonio Flecha, Rick Flens, Oscar Freire, Robert Gesink, Matthew Hayman, Pedro Horrillo, Dmitri Kozontsjoek, Sebastiaan Langeveld, Tom Leezer, Gerben Löwik, Paul Martens, Denis Menchov, Koos Moerenhout, Bauke Mollema, Grischa Niermann, Joost Posthuma, Kai Reus, Bram Tankink, Laurens ten Dam, William Walker, Pieter Weening.

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