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The Rabobank Years: A Look Back
Today’s news that Rabobank will stop sponsoring both their men’s and women’s teams following on from the fallout of the USADA report and their own shady past has rocked the sport. Whatever you think of their riders past and present and their management there’s no doubting that in the seventeen years that they’ve been in the sport they’ve given us many memories. Good times, bad times it’s all here in a special photo history of the team.

The big names in the first year of the team back in ’96, Johan Bruyneel, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Rolf Sorensen and Erik Breuikink.

Bruyneel had his ups and downs whilst with Rabobank…

In more recent times Theo Bos has also had his ups and downs with the team after transferring from the track.

When the going gets tough, hardman Lars Boom has often come through with a victory.

One recent signing has been Mark Renshaw and although he’s not brought in the number of victories he would have liked the Brown/Bos/Renshaw and Matthews combination has proved to be a force to be reckoned with this year in the sprints.

Robert Gesink has long been touted as the great white hope for Rabobank – a possible GrandTour winner. He climbs well, time trials well but more importantly for management – he’s Dutch!

Rabobank did win 3 GrandTours in their time in the sport – all via the Russian Denis Menchov (Vuelta 2005 & 2007 plus the Giro 2009).

Laurens Ten Dam is one of the tough guys of the modern Rabobank team whether on the flats or in the mountains.

Longtime Rabobank fastman Graeme Brown enjoying a lie down with Bradley Wiggins.

It was all looking so good for Michael Rasmussen in the ’07 Tour de France before Rabobank kicked him off the race – whilst in yellow for lying about his whereabouts.

An early star in the classics for Rabobank was Danish rider Rolf Sorensen. His wins included KBK and the Tour of Flanders.

Now on GreenEdge, Tour de France stage winner Peter Weening pushes the pace in the ’06 Tour.

Rabobank was always up amongst the best teams in the TTTs.

Erik Dekker was a big winner for Rabobank in the early 2000’s

Team Sky hardman, Matthew Hayman honed his trade under the colors of Rabobank for many years.

Oscar Freire provided many big victories for Rabobank in his tenure with them from 2003 – 2011 including this Classic where he snuck under Erik Zabel’s victory salute to claim Milan San Remo in ’04.

The pairing of Rolf Sorensen and Michael Boogerd were a force to be reckoned with in the Classics.

Leon Van Bon provided one of Rabobank’s early GrandTour stage victories here beating Jens Voigt in the 98 Tour.

Rabobank even had Lance looking over his shoulder.

Rolf Sorensen leads the way in Paris Roubiaix wearing the jersey of World Cup leader.

Yep, Levi was dirty when he was with Rabobank.

Another international who had solid but not spectacular results with Rabobank was the Swiss, Beat Zberg.

Rabobank’s early GC man was the Austrian Peter Luttenberger. Signed for big money with the team after he was 5th in the 96 Tour, 13th was the best he could ever do with Rabobank.

Robbie McEwen’s very first GrandTour stage was under the colors of Rabobank on the Champs-Elysees here in ’99

So that’s just a brief history of this team that has seen it’s fair share of victories, defeats and doping scandals. Apparently the latest fallout from the USADA report and in particular the UCI’s inability to control the sport was the reason for their withdrawal. Here’s part of what the board members of the bank had to say;

“We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future.”

“The USADA report was the final straw.”

“The international sport of cycling is not only sick, the sickness goes up to the highest levels”

The good news for the team itself is that they will continue in 2013 albeit without Rabobank colors – much like Highroad competed after T-Mobile quit.

I hope you enjoyed this lookback at the team and let’s hope that despite losing Rabobank as a huge sponsor from our sport that new sponsors will come and our sport can continue, cleaner, brighter and stronger.


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