Bauke Mollema bullish ahead of stage 17 time trial
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bauke Mollema bullish ahead of stage 17 time trial

by Ben Atkins at 7:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
“I hope I can take time on Contador,” says Dutchman

bauke mollemaBauke Mollema (Belkin) finished the tricky stage 16 of the Tour de France, between Vaison-la-Romaine and Gap with his second place overall intact. The 26-year-old Dutchman, who is riding the Tour as his team’s protected rider for the first time, was able to follow the repeated attacks from Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) on the final climb of the Col de Manse, and stayed with the eight-rider elite group all the way to the finish.

Mollema still trails Maillot Jaune (Team Sky) by 4’14”, while he has held on to his eleven-second lead over third place Contador. With a four mountainous days to come, however, the Belkin rider expects to come under further pressure.

"I think we can expect more attacks from riders like Contador in the coming days,” Mollema said after stage 16. “Today I felt good. Before the stage, I watched a video of the final climb's descent so that I knew exactly how it flowed.”

Looking ahead to the 32km time trial between Embrun and Chorges, however, Mollema hopes to be able to make a difference himself. The inclusion of two 2nd category climbs in the route - the Côte de Puy-Sanières and the Côte de Réallon - stage 17 could scarcely be more different from the similar length time trial on stage 11.

Although Mollema finished 1'53” behind Froome on the 33km test between Avranches and Mont-Saint-Michel, he beat Contador by ten seconds and, having been able to match the Spaniard in the mountains so far, the Dutchman is confident ahead of tomorrow’s hillier course.

“Tomorrow's time trial is quite tricky, but I hope I can take time on Contador,” Mollema said. “With two climbs, I fancy my chances on the parcours. The previous time trial gave me a lot of morale.”

Sitting in second place with just five stages to go, Mollema could be poised to become the first Dutchman to finish on the Tour de France podium since his former Rabobank team manager Erik Breukink took third in 1990. The prospect of the first Netherlands podium in more than two decades will surely make the famous “Dutch Corner” on Alpe d’Huez even more lively than usual on Thursday’s decisive stage.


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