Stage 13 reconnaissance sees Belkin’s Mollema and ten Dam move up
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Stage 13 reconnaissance sees Belkin’s Mollema and ten Dam move up

by Ben Atkins at 2:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Dutch team helps to eliminate Valverde and makes the winning break to gain on Froome

bauke mollemaBelkin Pro Cycling managed to eliminate general classification rival Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the crosswinds of stage 13, between Tours and Saint-Amand-Montrond, and - as Saxo-Tinkoff made the decisive attack with 32km to go - both Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam managed to put 69 seconds into Maillot Jaune Chris Froome (Team Sky). The Dutch team’s success on the stage was far from accidental, however, but a result of pre-race reconnaissance and preparation on what looked initially like a dull transition stage.

"Today we fully benefited from the fact that the Sports Directors reconned many of the stages, including this one,” explained Belkin’s Lars Boom. “During our preparation, [Dutch weather forecaster] Weerplaza kept us very specifically informed about the wind, which was great.

“All details worked in our advantage,” he added. “Obviously, the mood in the team is very good at the moment."

Valverde punctured as he passed through the feedzone at the midpoint of the 173km stage, just as the race was beginning to split under the impetus of Belkin and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Rather than wait for the Spanish rider - as the rules of cycling etiquette might have called for - the Dutch team worked hard to eliminate him from the general classification.

By the time he reached the finish, Valverde had lost almost eight minutes, and slipped from second to 16th overall; his place on the second step of the provisional podium was taken by Mollema.

The work for the stage was not over, however, as six members of Saxo-Tinkoff hit the front with 32km to go and pulled a group clear of the peloton. Mollema and Ten Dam managed to infiltrate the group, along with eventual stage winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and green jersey Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and - by the finish - had taken back much of the time the lost to Froome in Wednesday’s time trial.

"We did really good work,” said Mollema. “Laurens and I end up in the first group, but without the help of the guys, we couldn't have done that. They did a superb job. They kept us at the front of the peloton all the time and it paid off.

“When Valverde punctured, we were already up front,” he explained. “At that point, we had planned to make an echelon. Later on, we heard Valverde suffered from bad luck. The minute we gained on Froome and the other GC riders is a very nice bonus. It already looked good for me, but it's only getting better."

Mollema now trails Froome by 2’28”, with ten Dam moving up to fifth place, 3’01” behind, but it was attentiveness from the Dutchmen that made sure that they had made the decisive move.

"In the final I had a feeling that Saxo-Tinkoff was up to something,” ten Dam explained. “They hadn't done so much work until then. When they attacked I immediately shouted to Bauke and therefore we were the first to join. The first kilometre was very hard, but when the peloton broke behind, I knew we were in a good spot.

“It's great that we gained time on Froome and both gain a spot in the GC,” ten Dam added. “That's also due to our good preparation."


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