Tour de France: Mollema suffers but maintains on Mont Ventoux
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tour de France: Mollema suffers but maintains on Mont Ventoux

by Kyle Moore at 2:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Dutchman holds second place overall thanks to long pulls from team-mate Ten Dam

Bauke MollemaAs he has seemed to on most of the big climbs so far in the Tour de France, Bauke Mollema (Belkin) suffered but maintained a steady pace on Mont Ventoux, and used some helpful pulls from team-mate Laurens Ten Dam to maintain his second place overall after stage 15.

Unfortunately for Mollema and Ten Dam, everyone suffered at the hands of stage winner and maillot jaune Chris Froome (Sky Procycling), as the Kenyan-born Brit yanked out further time on the rest of his competition. Mollema and Ten Dam filtered in 8th and 9th respectively on the stage, with Mollema losing 1’46” and Ten Dam dropping 1’53” to Froome.

Ten Dam was the primary engine that pulled his group back to Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), who had originally gone up the road with Froome before falling back himself. With the Spaniard struggling along with compatriot Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ten Dam worked slowly but surely back to Contador.

The result was a six-second loss that Mollema incurred against Contador, and with a 17-second buffer on him entering the stage, the Dutchman hung onto second place overall. He is now 4’14” behind Froome, with Contador 11 seconds behind him. Contador’s team-mate Roman Kreuziger finished the stage with him yet again, meaning he holds onto fourth, and Ten Dam remains fifth, although the bearded Belkin rider is now 4’54” behind Froome.

In the decisive sections of Mont Ventoux, the finishing climb of a 243-kilometre day, Froome attacked up to Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who had moved up the road earlier in the climb. Contador was briefly in the Brit’s wheel before being shaken off, later joining with Nieve. Behind, a group with the two Belkin riders, Kreuziger, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Bart de Clercq (Lotto-Belisol), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) had consolidated, with most of the pace-making being left up to Ten Dam.

Mollema could be seen physically struggling, his shoulders and head dipping with every pedal-stroke, while ahead, Ten Dam was monitoring the situation and pedaling easier.

In their comments after the stage, both Belkin riders were honest about their experiences with the Ventoux climb, and their words reflected their struggles, or lack thereof.

“Laurens was very strong and did a lot of work," Mollema praised. "That was great. I'm not sure if I've ever had to go so deep. In the last ten kilometres, I was really suffering. I had to give everything I had, but I guess you can deal with a lot of pain when you're second overall.”

Ten Dam confirmed that he was on a good day, riding with the confidence achieved from performing beyond a level he has experienced in previous Tours. “I'm glad I was able to support Bauke and I'm pleased with the fact that we both successfully defended our GC positions,” he added. “I felt really good on the Ventoux. Unfortunately, I could not follow Froome, but that's not a surprise. This whole year he has been too strong.”

Both Belkin leaders earned the praise of veteran team-mate Bram Tankink. “You know that on the Mont Ventoux, huge time differences can be made, especially after such a long and fast stage, but Bauke and Laurens did great,” Tankink stated.

Belkin Pro Cycling next gets to enjoy a rest day before taking on a transitional stage from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap on Tuesday.


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