Mollema fighting illness, suffering in Tour de France week three
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mollema fighting illness, suffering in Tour de France week three

by Kyle Moore at 2:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Dutchman drops to sixth overall after cracking on Alpe d’Huez

Bauke MollemaBauke Mollema (Belkin) has seen his hopes for a podium place in Paris begin to disintegrate over the course of the difficult third week of the Tour de France. The Dutch rider took his biggest hit on Thursday’s queen stage, cracking early on the final ascent of Alpe d’Huez and being paced to a 26th place finish by team-mate Robert Gesink.

Mollema’s Belkin team-mate Laurens ten Dam has also begun to struggle. He finished 37th atop Alpe d’Huez, dropping to tenth place overall, now over 14 minutes behind overall leader Chris Froome (Sky Procycling).

Though Mollema hasn’t stated it plainly, his team director Nico Verhoeven indicated that the Belkin leader has been suffering with illness for a couple days. Verhoeven feared that Mollema’s time loss on the Alpe could have been even worse.

Mollema took his first big GC hit in yesterday’s time trial, where he finished a respectable 11th place, but lost over a minute to many of the riders fighting for the remaining two podium places. The Dutchman said that he is still struggling from that effort.

“This was really not my day,” Mollema stated according to De Telegraaf at the top of Alpe d’Huez. “After the time trial, I already felt uncomfortable. I was fighting the whole day. Robert Gesink stayed with me, otherwise I would have lost even more time.”

He is coming to grips with the loss of a top three finish, and will now try to salvage what he can with still two difficult mountain stages to come. In sixth overall, Mollema has less than a minute buffer over Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) behind him, although it is a further five-plus minutes back to Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) in eighth.

“The podium is now out of sight, you could say. With such a bad day, you can be happy that you only lose two places. It’s not that the others have become much better. I have less [energy] now. I am missing the power I’ve had the past few weeks.”

Verhoeven defended his rider, citing health issues. “We knew Bauke was sick, so we are still satisfied,” the team manager stated. “He just was not healthy, yesterday in the time trial even. Fortunately this morning he was fit enough to start.

“We were afraid it would go wrong during the stage. We were happy that he was still there on the first time up Alpe d’Huez. At the foot of it the second time, he soon ran into trouble.”

Ten Dam was nursing injuries after pushing too hard and crashing on one of the descents in Wednesday’s time trial. After running into difficulty of his own on the Alpe, ten Dam also thanked a Belkin team-mate for helping to pull him to the finish, where he salvaged his tenth place overall. “I was suffering today. During the first climb of the Alpe d'Huez, I was already at my limit. I was struggling,” ten Dam admitted on the Belkin website.

“I was in survival mode and only thinking about damage control. I want to thank Lars Boom. After he was caught, he did some great work for me on the Alpe d'Huez. Maybe my crash in yesterday's time trial weakened me more than I realized at first. This is a small blow, but hopefully I can recover enough for tomorrow.”

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