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"In Great Britain, the first days will be nervous and we have to be careful. With five uphill finishes and only one time trial on the last Saturday, I think I have an opportunity to make a good GC," Mollema tells De Telegraaf

Photo: Sirotti






25.10.2013 @ 15:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema are set to share the leadership at Belkin in next year's Tour de France and the Dutch duo are satisfied with the course that was unveiled last Wednesday. If they get safely through the tricky first week, both riders expect to finish high in the general classification.


Belkin had a very successful first Tour de France under their new name when Bauke Mollema finished 6th overall and the team played a prominent role throughout the three weeks. For a long time, the Dutchmen had both Laurens Ten Dam and Mollema in the top 5 and made up for the disappointments that have so often plagued them in the French grand tour.


Next year the team will try to improve on its performance and Mollema will once again be one of its leaders. Next year he will be joined by Robert Gesink who had a disappointing Giro and rode in a support role in the Tour, with the Dutchman having told Cyclingnews that he will forgo the Italian grand tour to fully focus on the French race in 2014.


None of the riders were present at the presentation of this year's course last Wednesday but they have both had time to study the layout of next year's race. With 5 uphill finishes and only one time trial, the race appears to be one for the climbers and this suits the Belkin duo well.


"In Great Britain, the first days will be nervous and we have to be careful," Mollema told De Telegraaf. "With five uphill finishes and only one time trial on the last Saturday, I think I have an opportunity to make a good GC."


The team has often been plagued by bad luck in the grand tours and despite lining up several captains, they have often left the races empty-handed due to crashes. Hence, Mollema doesn't expect any internal rivalry and sees it as a clear advantage to have numbers in the mountains.


"If we both get through the first week well, we have two cards in the mountains ," he said. "And I think the course suits both of us."


The stage that has attracted most attention is the fifth one which includes 9 pavé sections. The cobbled surface was last included in 2010 when Gesink finished 5th overall, and while the Dutchman would have preferred its absence, he is not too afraid of the rough surface.


"You already know that some GC riders must lick their wounds after that cobbles stage to Arenberg," he said. "I do not think it's really good but I did it in 2010 despite having a wrist injury. It's something we have to survive."


"I am satisfied with the course," he added. "A few nice summit finishes and a time trial. This offers opportunities . Having seen the course, I will ready to go for the GC."


Gesink's best Tour result was his 5th place in 2010.



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