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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Rabobank
TEAM PROFILE
Oscar Freire winning a stage in last year's race
Country: Holland
Manager: Theo de Rooy
Best Tour: Boogerd fourth in 1998
Rabobank pulled off one of the coups of the close season when they snapped up the Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire.

The two-time world champion had been linked with a number of leading teams before agreeing to join the Dutch outfit.

Freire had looked in superb condition at the start of last year's Tour de France but was forced to retire after a freak accident and illness.

Whether he can push all the way in the green jersey remains to be seen, but his Rabobank lieutenants look likely to lead him to at least one early stage win.

An experienced management team including former cyclists Frans Maassen and Joop Zoetemelk have shaped the team in every division.

The leading star of the team this season has been sprinter Erik Dekker, while Levi Leipheimer and Michael Boogerd are the best bets for a top-10 finish.

Boogerd managed 12th a year ago, while Leipheimer was one of the finds of the tour with an impressive eighth.

He had previously impressed with third in the 2001 Tour of Spain but, despite his lack of experience, looked an even more complete rider in France last year.

Boogerd has had his chances to impress but has never quite lived up to his early potential.

The Dutch team have dominated many of the one-day races, most notably through the sensational sprinting of Erik Dekker.

And, with arguably their best team line-up to date including the addition of former Mapei sprinter Oscar Freire, they could finally come away with more than just stage wins this time around.

Rabobank, which was previously known as Panasonic and then WordPerfect, is headed by Jan Raas, a former rider of the all-conquering TI Raleigh team of the 1970s, for whom Joop Zootemelk won the Tour 22 years ago.





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