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"The heat formed a huge challenge. It was extremely hot. During the last kilometres it seemed as if my legs were on fire. I've never experienced that before," Mollema says

Photo: Sirotti








18.07.2014 @ 19:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was a mixed day for the Belkin team in today's big Alpine stage of the Tour de France. While Bauke Mollema was unable to keep up with his podium rivals, Laurens Ten Dam rode a couargeous stage to move closer to the top 10 on a day when both suffered in the hot conditions.


The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM showed strongly in the first Alpine stage of this year's Tour de France today to Chamrousse. Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam both moved up in the overall thanks to strong performances in Friday's 13th stage – Mollema from eighth to seventh, and Ten Dam from 17th to 12th. 

"It was not very good, but it was not very bad either," Mollema said after he placed 13th. "That's more often the case with me. I couldn't follow Nibali, Valverde, Pinot, Van Garderen and some other riders on the final climb, but I handled Van Den Broeck pretty well. Laurens rode ahead of me, so it wasn't really up to me to lead the chase. 

"The heat formed a huge challenge. It was extremely hot. During the last kilometres it seemed as if my legs were on fire. I've never experienced that before. 

"It looks like that this is about my place, even if you never know what's going to happen. Doing a good overall isn't necessarily about being the best rider in the race. It's also very important to avoid a bad day that the others might suffer, like Porte today. That was a surprise to me." 

Ten Dam decided to attack on the Chamrousse, the 18-kilometre final climb. It eventually earned him an eighth place. 


"I had to dig deep," said Ten Dam. "I jumped a little bit too late to Majka and König. When I went, I knew I had to keep going. I gave everything, but unfortunately, I couldn't bridge. When Nibali, Pinot and Valverde joined me, I was suffering in their wheels. When Nibali attacked, I simply wasn't able to follow. 

"I felt good today and on the penultimate climb, it all seemed pretty easy going, though it was very hard because of the heat. I could have rode a boring race in order to move up, but on the last climb, I thought. 'Why don't I just give it a try?' 


"After my acceleration I was constantly on the limit. Twelfth overall is nice, but we still have four mountain stages and a time trial left. We're in good position, however." 

Nico Verhoeven had secretly hoped for something more, but was pleased with the results. Thanks to the performances by the Belkin riders, the team moved from third to second in the team classification. 

"You don't exactly know where you stand after just one mountain stage, but this is an indication," Verhoeven said. 


"I had hoped that Bauke could stay with direct competitors as Pinot and Van Garderen, however. If you want to end up on the podium, that's important. Unfortunately, today he couldn't, maybe tomorrow. Laurens almost made his way into the top ten. He still has as chance of being top six. 

"We can look ahead to the following mountain stages with confidence. We're truly involved in the overall fight." 



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