Team Manager Richard Plugge said that the team is able to conquer the hearts of cycling fans yet again in the new year. “It’s what we did in last year’s Tour de France and what we want to do again in 2014,” explained Plugge. “The Tour of California, a home race for us, is high up on our wish list this year. It would be great to put on a nice show there, in the backyard of Belkin owner Chet Pipkin. Two years ago, Robert Gesink won the race.”
Classics and Grand Tours
The team’s focus will mainly be on the WorldTour events in 2014. “We want to finish highly in the WorldTour rankings by the end of the year,” Plugge said “We’ll particularly focus on the spring classics, with Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke, and the Grand Tours. We have Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam who can do well there. We also hope that Steven Kruijswijk can reach his top level again after his surgery and can make the next step.
Belkin brightens the future and makes it easier. Thanks to the team’s sponsors, Plugge said that he is confident in the team reaching its goals. “Last year Belkin, a serious and enthusiastic sponsor, jumped in. They allow us to look to the future with confidence. Looking towards the more distant future, we’ll change the business model drastically in 2014,” continued Plugge. “We’re very happy that Bianchi and Santini joined us on our ride to the future. These two established Italian companies use their years of experience in cycling for improving products. We are delighted to have these two new partners onboard and look forward to work and perform at the highest level with them.”
“The team strives for excellence, we want to be accessible and motivated to compete at the highest level. To reach excellence we have diverse partnerships, such as Nutrim and DailyFresh for nutrition, the Cruyff Institute for coaching, Weerplaza for weather forecasts and our new cooperation with TranSportium for health, transport and sustainability. Innovation is the main point of our organisation; we try to gain knowledge and to share experiences.”
Looking back on the first half year as the sponsor of Team Belkin Arthur van Rest, director product marketing speaks enthusiastically about the first results. “We wanted the world to meet our brand and consumer technology products, and we succeeded,” van Rest said. “The sponsorship of the Belkin Pro Cycling team enables us to engage with consumers in a whole new way, sport sponsoring adds to the emotional experience with our brand.”
Van Rest praised the team’s spirit and its will to innovate. “It was a fantastic experience to enter cycling with this enthusiastic team,” said van Rest. “Belkin operates worldwide, breaths innovation and thinks differently and that is the same for the team. This year, we will work closely together with the team and share our technology expertise to help the team innovate. We also want to develop products for consumers based on the experience and insights of the riders.”
Looking ahead to 2014
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team riders looked ahead to their 2014 season at the Institute for Sound and Vision as well.
“The classics are my big goal aim. The period between the E3 Harelbeke and Paris-Roubaix is very important for me. “We’re going to prepare for the classics with a special training camp. I’m looking forward to it as we have new materials and it is good to feel how they respond ahead of the races. I hope to ride the Tour de France again, as well. The classic riders had a major role in last year’s race and with this year’s cobbled stage I hope to be of value again.”
“I hope to win a lot of races this year, just like last year, from Qatar to Langkawi and from the Tour of Belgium to the Tour of Turkey. Together with the team, I want to win stages in all those races. I won’t ride as many races as last year, normally that works out well because it gives me enough time to train. “I want to focus on myself and my own development, although it remains very nice to sprint against top sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel, and to see where you stand. Maybe I can beat them again like in last year’s Ster ZLM Toer.”
“The Tour de France and the Tour of California are my two biggest goals in 2014. I hope that I can win again in California like I did in 2012. It is a home race for the team now. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve done pretty well overseas the last few years. “In the Tour, I hope to ride high in the GC. Along with Bauke, I will captain the team. I think it is good to have two leaders because you never know what will happen along the way. I know I can place in the top ten and maybe a little better.”
“The Giro is important to me. I’m allowed to ride for myself and I’m super excited. I learned a lot last year. I hope to be a bit stronger this year. I would like to get in the mix for a top ten. I hope to do well in the fight for the white jersey, as well, but I know it will be difficult as Nairo Quintana will be in Italy. During the rest of the season, I hope to do well in every race that I ride. I will ride fewer races than last year.”
“My goal for 2014 is to do better than last year. I gained a lot of experience in 2013. I’m a bit older and stronger now and I believe I can make another step. Riders will watch me but that’s only normal. However, not much will change. I still want to get the best out of myself in every race that I ride. “My programme is similar to last year’s, although this time I will ride Milan-San Remo. I like the new final because it’s a bit harder. When I heard of it I thought, ‘I must do this.’ It combines well with the Tirreno-Adriatico.”
“The spring is most important time of the year for me. In races like E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, I hope to fight for the win. Of course, another win in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad would be great as well. I’m really looking forward to Flanders. The new route will make up for an open race like in the past. “Hopefully, I will be at the Tour de France again as well. For a rider like me there usually aren’t many opportunities for a stage win, but with this year’s cobbled stage, I think I have a chance. I also would love to help the team leaders again. After last year’s event the team knows what I’m capable of.”