Vuelta a España: Bauka Mollema wins flat stage 17 with final kilometre attack
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vuelta a España: Bauka Mollema wins flat stage 17 with final kilometre attack

by Ben Atkins at 12:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
 
Late crosswinds split the peloton as Pozzovivo and Pinot both lose time

bauke mollema

Bauke Mollema (Belkin) surprised the remaining sprinters in a depleted peloton to take the 17th stage of the 2013 Vuelta a España, between Calahorra and Burgos, with a final kilometre attack. The Dutch climber jumped clear in the final kilometre of the mostly flat stage and, with few teams having more than a handful of riders in the group, there was no cohesive chase until it was far too late.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) took the sprint for second place, several metres behind Mollema but within the same second, with Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) taking third.

The 189km was not expected to have any influence on the general classification, but aggression from several of the strong teams in the last 30km split the peloton and saw Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) both lose time.

"I knew this was my chance,” said Mollema afterwards. “I thought all day about an attack in the last kilometre. I knew the peloton would be small after the climb in the final kilometres. The crosswinds made up for an even smaller group, so that was perfect. Under the red flag the speed went down. This was my moment. I gave everything I had and suffered a lot but managed to hold on until the line.
 
“I came here with ambitions for a good classification result but after the first week I felt that that was going to be hard after a heavy Tour de France,” he added. “From that moment on, I focused on a stage win. It’s fantastic that I’ve managed to pull it off.”

The break of the day came from Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) and Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), who escaped in the early kilometres and managed to get more than eight minutes clear before the peloton got them under control. The duo’s lead then shrank steadily, and what advantage they had left as the aggression began in the peloton evaporated, and they were caught with 21km to go.

A short, sharp, unclassified climb on the outskirts of Burgos with just under ten kilometres to go, saw an attack from Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), who was able to get a few seconds clear. The Italian was joined after the technical descent by Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), but the two of them were soon pulled back.

Tanel Kangert (Astana) then tried to escape immediately the new duo was caught, but he was not able to get far. Mollema’s attack in the final kilometre, however, exposed a lack of teammates for the sprinters and he managed to hold them off to the line.

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) managed to finish safely in the front peloton, along with most of the overall contenders, and held on to his red jersey for another day. Pozzovivo and Pinot crossed the line at the front of the second peloton, however, 1’31” behind Mollema, and Pozzovivo lost his fifth place overall to Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).

21 try but only two succeed on a windy, exposed road

After an immediate attempted break from a group of 21 riders was pulled back, Hansen and Aramendia escaped in the third kilometre. After 18km the two riders were 7’05” ahead, before Lampre-Merida took control of the peloton to keep them under control. A headwind slowed the progress of the breakaway, but the duo managed to eke out its lead to 8’10” at the 50km point as Orica-GreenEdge joined Lampre-Merida at the front.

At the 98km point the gap had been cut to 3’52”, but the pace of the chase dropped so as to not catch the fugitives too soon.

The gap then fluctuated for a while, either side of four minutes, as the dup approached the 3rd category Alto de Pradilla. Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) attacked out of the peloton as it neared the top, as a bridge for mountains classification leading teammate Nicolas Edet. Edet himself then jumped clear, but was followed stage 14 winner Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) - who sat second in the classification, just six points behind Edet - so the Frenchman sat up and allowed Sijmens to take third place.

Sijmens too was caught by the peloton on the descent, with Lampre-Merida and Orica-GreenEdge still leading. With 60km to go the breakaway’s lead had risen to 4’31”, but soon began to fall quickly.

The 3rd category climb to the Alto de Valmala saw a similar situation as Sijmens jumped clear once again. This time Edet managed to escape without the company of Ratto, however, and managed to bridge to his teammate. Sijmens then sat up as Edet took the single point for third place, 2’25”, behind the breakaway duo with 49.7km to go. The peloton followed 17 seconds later, but Edet soon sat up and drifted back into the fold.

Pinot and Pozzovivo on the back foot as the crosswinds strike

With 30km to go the gap was down to 1’26” and, as the peloton hit an exposed stretch of road, Saxo-Tinkoff hit the front and attacked. Movistar also came through to to lift the pace, causing a group of just 40 riders to break clear at the front. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) then moved forward, with second overall teammate Chris Horner safely tucked in behind him, and - as Robert Kiserlovski moved up - the American’s team took control.

Most of the overall contenders were present in the front group, but fifth place Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) and seventh overall Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) were in the third group and losing time.

Through the intermediate sprint, in Ibeas de Juarros with 24.3km to go, Hansen and Aramendia’s lead was down to just 33 seconds.

Katusha then began to lift the pace again but, realising that Pozzovivo had missed the split, Saxo-Tinkoff hit the front again to hold him off on behalf of Nicolas Roche.

The result of this pace saw the breakaway duo’s last few seconds advantage evaporate quickly, and Hansen and Aramendia sat up and shook hands as they were passed with 21km to go.

With 15km to go the gap between the first and third groups on the road was 42 seconds, with the third group edging closer to the second on the wide roads on the outskirts of Burgos. Saxo-Tinkoff was still driving the pace at the head of the leading peloton, and edging further away from what became a combined second group.

Movistar, Astana and Katusha were also keen to keep the speed high, as all three teams moved up into the final ten kilometres. The gap at the ten kilometre banner was 48 seconds to the Pozzovivo/Pinot group, just as Astana led the front group onto the short, steep, unclassified climb with 9.4km to go.

Ulissi tries to get away but Mollema times it to perfection

Astana’s Paolo Tiralingo was leading the group at pace up the climb, shedding several riders out the back, but with 8.5km to go, Ulissi jumped away. Onto the technical descent the Italian had just a seven seconds, however, as RadioShack-Leopard hit the front again in pursuit.

Cancellara was leading again, although it was Nibali that was on his wheel as the group re-entered Burgos via a gate in the old city wall. Martinez managed to bridge up to Ulissi, joining him with six kilometres left, but the two of them had the peloton breathing down their necks as Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) hit the front.

With 4.6km to go the two riders were caught, and Kangert jumped past them and managed to stay clear for a kilometre and a half, before he too was pulled up with just under three to go.

Saxo-Tinkoff took over again, but no one team wanted to do too much at this point. Team Sky and NetApp-Endura hit the front under the flamme rouge, but this was where Mollema made his move and the Dutchman immediately opened up a gap.

There was little reaction to the Belkin rider’s attack until, with 300 metres to go, the sprinters left in the group began to wind up their sprints. This was far too late, however, as Mollema was already heading towards the line to take the victory.

The Pozzovivo/Pinot group finally limped home after 1’31”. Pozzovivo slipped from fifth to sixth overall, losing his place to Roche; while Pinot held onto his seventh place overall, he was now just nine seconds ahead of Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) in eighth.

Result stage 17
1. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
3. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Leopard
6. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
8. Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
9. José Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff

Standings after stage 17
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Pro Team Astana
2. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard @ 28s
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team @ 1’14”
4. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team @ 2’29”
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 3’43”
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 5’09”
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr @ 6’08”
8. Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura @ 6’17”
9. Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 7’33”
10. Tanel Kangert (Est) Pro Team Astana @ 10’52”

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