Bauke Mollema overcomes a day of bad luck to stay in Vuelta a España contention
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Bauke Mollema overcomes a day of bad luck to stay in Vuelta a España contention

by Ben Atkins at 5:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Dutchman delayed by a crash and a mechanical but still finishes with the favourites

bauke mollemaBauke Mollema (Belkin) overcame a day of bad luck in the third stage of the Vuelta a España, recovering from both being caught behind a crash and a late mechanical problem to finish with the favourites. The 26-year-old Dutchman took sixth place on the Mirador de Lobeira, in a group just three seconds behind stage winner Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard), despite having to chase back to the main peloton twice in the last 40km of the stage.

“The last sixty kilometres were chaos,” Mollema said after the stage. “First I was behind a crash and, later on, my chain fell off. Fortunately, the guys brought me back both times. I really need to thank them for that.”

With just 43km of the 184.8km stage to go, a crash on a left hand bend saw the peloton split into several pieces. Very few riders actually hit the ground in the relatively low speed incident, but more than half the peloton was caught behind it; with the Corinthian tradition of not attacking a rival now seemingly a thing of the past, several teams sought to take advantage.

“You can say all is well that ends well, but it was a tough day,” confirmed Belkin’s Stef Clement. “The first time it was our own fault that we ended up chasing the bunch. We were trying to get to the front but were too late. Then we got caught up behind a crash with Bauke. Luckily, we were with enough men to get him back in the peloton.”

A strong chase from the Belkin team got Mollema back to the main bunch but, with around 15km to go Mollema dropped his chain. With the peloton now in full cry on the approach to the finish, he was forced to make another chase.

“Today’s main goal was to have the boys at the front of the peloton at the foot of the final climb,” said Belkin’s German rider Robert Wagner. “And despite all the stress we accomplished just that. The fact that we had to chase the bunch down twice made it extra tough, but we solved it as a team.”

After his sixth overall in July’s Tour de France, Mollema is riding the Vuelta with the aim of going at least one better than his fourth place of 2011. Having finished strongly on the first two uphill finishes of the race, the Dutchman is cautiously optimistic about his chances for the rest of the race.

“The legs feel good,” he said. “The explosive arrivals of the past two days suited me well, but you can’t compare it to a longer climb. So in that respect I just have to wait and see.”

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