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Interview: Rabo’s DeRooy Looks To 2004

Rabobank team manager and directeur sportif Theo de Rooy, recently talked about their 2003 season. Characterized by bad luck, injury, and illness – it’s one they’re hoping will soon be a distant memory.

The interview appeared on the Rabobank Team website.

A look back to the season 2003 for the Rabobank by Theo de Rooy
There were some victories in this season. The team got 25 victories. But only one victory was very important and that was the 7th stage in the Vuelta for Michael Rasmussen.

What is the reason that we didn’t succeed in this season?
The season started with bad luck. At first Erik Dekker became an injury. Then there was the unsuccesful season for Robert Hunter. Just before the Tour of France Michael Rasmussen broke his hand. And last but not least the big crash in the 1st stage of the Tour of France with Marc Lotz and Levi Leipheimer as main victims.
And there were several minor problems like Michael Boogerd who became sick just before the Ronde van Vlaanderen and in the race itself crashes. But even so he goes to the Tour of the Baskenland but after 2 days he has to abandon because it all was too much.

However the beginning of the season was very strong. In the first 2 months of the season we got 10 victories with the peak in the weekend of 29 and 30 March where Steven de Jongh won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Michael Boogerd won the Brabantse Pijl. Then there were the spring classics. The team achieved reasonable but didn’t win a big spring classic.

The season was not so successful with bad luck on important moments. This is the first season since 1996 that the team didn’t get a win in a classic or a Tourstage victory. However the team finished on the 8th place in the UCI ranking. In 2002 the team ended on the 10th place in this UCI ranking. The team didn’t get important victories except the E3-Prijs and the Brabantse Pijl but it was very constant.

On Oscar Freire & Robert Hunter
One of the team members of whom we expected a lot was Oscar Freire. He didn’t get injured for the whole season but didn’t get the results we expected. One of the reasons for this were the injuries of Robert Hunter who had to prepare the sprints for Oscar Freire. Maybe one of the reasons for Oscar not to get big results was the habituation, because for the first time in his career he had to race the whole cycle from February until October. He managed to get the finish in Paris for the Tour of France but was very tired afterwards.

In the Tirreno however he beat Mario Cipollini in the 7th stage but afterwards we didn’t see a great sprint anymore of Oscar. The absence of Robert Hunter was the main reason for the failure of Oscar in the Tour of France. Robert crashed in the Euskal Bizikleta and forced himself in the Tour of Catalonie.

But nevertheless we have big expectations of Robert Hunter and Oscar Freire for the season 2004. One of the main tasks for Oscar is to speak the English language much more to his teammates. He is working well on this but it can be better.

What About Levi Leipheimer & Michael Rasmussen
The two main men for the overall classification in the Tour of France didn’t succeed with this.
As you all know Levi crashed in the 1st stage and had to abandon the Tour and Michael Rasmussen broke his hand because he crashed on the Galibier while he was busy with reconnoiter the Tour stages. But Michael got a big revenge in the Tour of Spain.
Next season Levi has new changes to show himself. He got a new contract for the Rabo team but with another status as before. We have all confidence in Levi but he has a less important part in the team.

Michael Rasmussen however has become a much more important part in the team. He managed for us the most successful Vuelta for the Rabo team in it’s history. In 2004 Michael Rasmussen will be our main man for the Tour of France because of his 7th place in the overall classification of the Tour of Spain.

Erik Dekker / Michael Boogerd
We expect Erik Dekker to be on his old level again in the new season. He showed this especially in the last months of the season. He rode very well in the Rheinland Pfalz and afterwards he worked very hard for Oscar Freire to hold on the 1st place in the overall classification of the Tour of Lucca in which the team succeeded very well.

Michael Boogerd can get even better results than last year. He has a lot of experience and his age is not a disadvantage. He also became more quit during a rac. When he doesn’t get much problems (crash, sickness etc) he can get very good results in 2004.

Looking Ahead to the 2004 Season
After the season 2004 some contracts will end, like the ones of Leipheimer, Hunter and Freire. But we are convinced that these cyclists will show us what they can in the new season.
We also hope that guys like Karsten Kroon, Roy Sentjens and Matthew Hayman will get very good results in 2004. And with Erik Dekker and Maarten den Bakker back on there level we think we will get some great results in the new season.
Everyone has a moment that he get’s a season like 2003. You can’t do anything about it. It’s just something you can learn from and think about when you continue cycling.
We will have some changes in the program for the new season but no big changes.
We will work with the team for the World Cup races and the Tour of France. The only question here is, if it is necessary to go on a trainingscamp just before the Tour of France.
It only gives more pressure. But we will see. We will start the season with the regurlar trainingscamps in Italy and Spain.

Get more info at the Rabobank Team Website www.rabobank.nl
– which only appears to be in Dutch for now…

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