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"I wanted Adam Yates to close the gap because I needed to beat him in the sprint for the bonus seconds - I was thinking about GC also. In the last 250 meters I attacked and tried to close the gap, but I just came on the wheel of S...

Photo: Sirotti






05.09.2015 @ 06:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek Factory Racing used superb teamwork in the closing kilometers of stage three, helping set up Bauke Mollema for the tough uphill finish where he crossed the line in second place and seized back the yellow jersey he first wore after the team won the team time trial in stage one.


Snow–lined roads, near freezing temperatures and cold intermittent rain gave way to brief spurts of sunshine by the end of the 181.8-kilometer stage three at the Tour of Alberta, enough to thaw a frozen peloton to finally kick into action on the final climbs into Miette Hot Springs.


“It was really cold, but I just put on a lot of clothing, so I was never really feeling it,” explained Mollema about the winter-like conditions. “We were quite lucky, the roads were wet for half of the day, but it was not raining too much. The temperature was always between two and six degrees (Celsius), maybe a little warmer in the final, but not much more. It was a really cold day.”


“It was two degrees, snow on the roadside, and raining, and I think it was really the limit to race in these conditions,” added team director, Kim Andersen. ”But we came through it and the weather improved in the end. Bauke also said he doesn’t mind the cold, so it was not too bad for him.


A group of around 30 riders crested the five-kilometer climb that topped out with 12 kilometers to go, the only survivors after Jesse Sergent led a blistering pace from the bottom to soften the group, followed by Matthew Busche, whose efforts brought back the last relic of the day’s escape group, and help further pare down the peloton.


With one kilometer to go a lot of guys were dropping at that moment and I knew everyone was at their limit so it was a good moment to attack. 


Then it was Laurent Didier’s turn. His attack one kilometer from the summit forced Orica-GreenEdge to pull hard behind. Didier crossed the mountain sprint line with a handful of seconds, was briefly joined by two chasers on the descent, before Orica GreenEdge brought everyone back to heel.


“We tried to make the race hard on the second last climb, to drop some sprinters, but in the end the climb was not as hard as we thought, and it was still a fairly big group going into the final three kilometers,” said Mollema of the team’s efforts on the penultimate ascent.


Team Katusha picked up the reins in the final three kilometers as the road stair-stepped with steeper pitches toward the finish.


Their effort petered out with one kilometer to go, and Bauke Mollema attacked immediately, drawing out a handful of riders. With a few key riders coming back on his wheel Mollema eased, and Michael Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) countered and opened a threatening gap. 


Mollema: “In the last 3k it was a little bit steeper and the speed went up and a lot of guys exploded, and that was better for me that the race was hard.  With one kilometer to go a lot of guys were dropping at that moment and I knew everyone was at their limit so it was a good moment to attack. Then Yates and the other GC guys were on my wheel quite fast, so then I waited. There was one other attack and then Slagter did a really good attack.”


Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) made the winning move, passing a fading Woods with less than 500 meters remaining and just holding off a charging Mollema, who crossed the line in the same time as his fellow countryman in second place.


“When Slagter went, Bauke knew that he had Yates in his wheel, so he pulled out and let Yates do some of the work – he didn’t want to pull him to the line and give him the second place bonus seconds,” explained Andersen.” Bauke was looking more for the GC than the stage, and in the end it was close that he almost had both. He also got a small gap to Yates who is the more dangerous of those two guys, so that was really perfect.”


"Tom-Jelte Slagter is a really good friend of mine and  I know he’s really explosive, so when he went I couldn’t follow," Mollema said.


He added: "I wanted Adam Yates to close the gap because I needed to beat him in the sprint for the bonus seconds – I was thinking about GC also. In the last 250 meters I attacked and tried to close the gap, but I just came on the wheel of Slagter by the line. It was a good win for him.


“It’s good to be back in the leader’s jersey by six seconds now, so it was a good day. The team is riding well, and we will have fun to defend the jersey now. I don’t mind the cold; I have had many days in my career when I was a lot of colder than today, and it looks like it will be a little bit warmer for the rest of the week, so it’s all okay.”



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