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“The uphill start was crazy! This was the toughest stage of the Tour and the race was on from the start to finish. I wanted to jump, too, but Sky literally told me no way. Bardet was there, and that was bad, but not horrible.”

Photo: A.S.O.

BAUKE MOLLEMA

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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24.07.2015 @ 22:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Bauke Mollema returned to his usual aptitude for climbing mountains as he finished with the select group of favorites in stage 19 at the Tour de France and moved one spot forward in the general classification to eighth.

 

The short but fierce 138-kilometer queen stage began with a 15-kilometer category one climb and the fireworks began immediately.

Everything blew to pieces on the early slope but later calmed when a 21-man breakaway escaped.  In a repeat of stage 18, Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) was part of the leading group and although Bauke Mollema attempted to jump into the breakaway, he was neutralized from making the move.

 

 

Mollema explained: “The uphill start was crazy! This was the toughest stage of the Tour and the race was on from the start to finish. I wanted to jump, too, but Sky literally told me no way. Bardet was there, and that was bad, but not horrible.”

 

With Bardet, one spot behind Mollema in GC, up the road it was not the best news for Trek Factory Racing, but LottoNL-Jumbo led the chase – also protecting their overall classification interests - to keep the threatening breakaway at two minutes ahead of the 22-kilometer Col de la Croix de Fer.

 

On what is arguably one of the toughest climbs in the Alps, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) made his move out of the breakaway and left his compatriots behind, all who were later caught before the top of the long, steep uphill.

 

The next big attack came from Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali as he surged ahead at the same moment the yellow jersey clad Chris Froome was forced to stop briefly with a mechanical.  

 

Nibali clawed his way to the solo leader up the road, catching Rolland by the top of the penultimate climb, while Bauke Mollema stayed with the GC favorites group behind - showing his climbing legs were back after two dubious days in the Alps.

 

On the final climb (La Toussuire, 18kms) Nibali rid Rolland, who was later scooped up by the yellow jersey group that now numbered 11, including Mollema.  Nibali held on for the win while second placed Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked in the final four kilometers to gain 29 seconds on Froome. 

 

Mollema crossed the line with the rest of the GC favorites in seventh place. Missing from the select group were Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) and Sky’s Geraint Thomas, moving Mollema into eighth GC and to 42 seconds of Frank who still grasps seventh.

 

“It was full gas all day and I am really empty,” added Mollema. “I felt a lot better than the last days, I felt that right away.

 

“With an uphill start like this it was going to be a really hard day, and it was only going up and down all day. It was a big fight in the front, and not only for us but also for the guys behind who must fight to make the time limit.

 

“I moved up one spot in the GC so it was a good day. It was a good pace the last two climbs and I was happy to be there in the front and I kept fighting to the finish. It was just one of those days that if you did not have good legs it would be a really, really hard day. Thankfully, I felt much better today, and that is good for the morale. Tomorrow again will be a big fight, and I feel more confident for Alpe d’Huez. That’s what will count.”

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