Mollema hoping lack of racing doesn’t curtain his Ardennes Classics ambitions
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mollema hoping lack of racing doesn’t curtain his Ardennes Classics ambitions

by VeloNation Press at 12:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne
 
Slagter also determined to perform well for Blanco Pro Cycling

Bauke MollemaHaving clocked up three top ten placings last year in the Ardennes Classics, including sixth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Blanco Pro Cycling’s Bauke Mollema is gunning for a big result in the same races this time around.

However the Dutchman has admitted that his preparation for the three events has not been ideal due to the illness he suffered which caused him to miss the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

“I haven’t really raced in a couple of weeks and I am not sure exactly where I stand,” he said, before adding “but in the period before that, I felt very strong.

“On top of that, I’ve been able to train very well the past few days. What Sep [Vanmarcke, second in Paris-Roubaix] did strengthens me as well. Secretly, I am already looking to Liège-Bastogne-Liège which is more my race but I believe I can also do well in the Amstel.”

Last year Mollema was tenth in the Amstel Gold Race and then followed that up with seventh in Flèche Wallonne and sixth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

According to directeur sportif Frans Massen, the fact that Vanmarcke’s buildup for Paris-Roubaix was also less than ideal means that the team retains some optimism that things could work out.

“We did not have an ideal preparation,” he said. “In the Tour of the Basque Country, Bauke was supposed to be the leader with an eye out for the Ardennes Classics. However, he did not start the race as he was the whole week sick in bed. That’s not what you’re looking for. But Sep Vanmarcke also did not have the ideal preparation for Paris-Roubaix. His second place there is a real boost for the entire team.”

Mollema will be joined by Santos Tour Down Under winner Tom-Jelte Slagter, plus Lars Boom, Laurens Ten Dam, Paul Martens, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Bram Tankink and David Tanner.

Slagter showed great explosive strength in the Santos Tour Down Under and if he can cope with the greater distance of the Amstel Gold Race, could be a rider to content for a big result. Mollema may be the designated leader, but his team-mate could also be a contender.

“The route suits me: it somewhat comparable to the stage I took in Australia. It’s just a hundred kilometres longer and different group of riders,” he said.

“I am going to follow my instincts on this one. If I think I can play a role in the finish, I’ll go for it. If not, I’ll try to make myself useful to the team in another way – tagging along up front or supporting Bauke.”

The team is currently trying to perform as well as possible in order to help secure a replacement sponsor for Rabobank, which walked away last autumn after many years as the chief backer of the team.

While it is legally obliged to honour the contracts that were in place, and thus will fund the team for at least one more year, the Blanco team management have said it is preferable if they can find a new backer to take over from this point in order to have greater long term stability.

Talks are ongoing but nothing has been finalised as yet. Vanmarcke’s strong Roubaix showing has helped illustrate what the team can do, with his close second place to Fabian Cancellara attracting plenty of media coverage. It also underlines his potential; he's just 24 years of age, and can realistically aim to win the race in the future.

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