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“I wanted to do a good performance today, and I am happy with what I did. Quintana was the strongest guy in the race today, but I finished second and took a good step towards the final podium.”

Photo: Sirotti






15.03.2015 @ 20:08 Posted by Andy Pedersen

It was an epic summit finish to the 197-kilometer queen stage in Tirreno-Adriatico Sunday as riders endured a snow-enshrouded finale in the first big test of the general classification. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) threw out the first damaging attack five kilometers from the top of the gruelling Mount Terminillo (16kms at 7.3%) as the last rider of the 8-man early breakaway group was dangling just ahead of a decimated chasing peloton.


Quintana powered by Astana’s Michele Scarponi, the last man standing from the day’s strong move, while behind attacks flew left and right from the whittled-down front group that contained Bauke Mollema. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was the most aggressive, but each attack he made was quickly defused. Mollema calmly waited, following the brief surges, and then, when the moment was right, he struck.


“The plan was to wait because it is a long climb and a big road also, so you can save energy in the wheels,” he explained to the Trek website. “I wanted to wait until the last 5k. And there were already some attacks and then Quintana was gone. After, some guys kept attacking and I followed all the time. I saw everyone was on the limit with the attacks so I felt it was time to go myself. I went full gas for 30 seconds and I saw I had a gap so then I just gave everything to the finish until then.”


No one reacted to Mollema’s attack and he set off in pursuit of Quintana with three kilometers to go, his shoulders rocking with each pedal stroke. Behind, a small chase group formed, but the Dutchman set his sights on the Colombian, and finish line, ahead; he motored onward, his upper body rolling in his familiar style.


“I knew that Quintana had 25 seconds and they were only 15 seconds behind so that motivated me to give everything to the finish,” continued Mollema. “I looked at my SRM and my [power] numbers and tried to stay above 400W.  It was a headwind all the time - that made it really hard - and in the back if you work together you have an advantage. I was counting the kilometers to the end.”


Quintana emerged first out of the snowy mist on a road fast turning white with snow and took a majestic win on the toughest stage of the week-long race. Mollema gritted his teeth and held on for a gutsy second-place, crossing the snow-covered line 41 seconds later.  Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) jumped from the six-man chasing group to snag third.


“I felt good all day, all week actually, and I was really looking forward to today’s uphill finish,” said Mollema. “I wanted to do a good performance today, and I am happy with what I did. Quintana was the strongest guy in the race today, but I finished second and took a good step towards the final podium.”


“It was heroic with this weather on the last climb. We were really lucky it was dry, more or less, until the finale and only snow for the last 2-3k, otherwise it would have been crazy going up the climb.” When prodded about his dynamic climbing style, he laughed. “Yah I think my style on the bike has improved last year already a little bit. I am trying to waste less energy and stay calmer, but it’s just my way -  when I go full gas, I just keep moving.”


Although the final standings are well sorted after today’s mountain ending, with two stages remaining - the final day a flat 10-kilometer time trial - the fight for the final podium is not over.  Mollema holds a slim nine-second lead over third placed Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step), but exuded confidence for the final race against the clock.


“Well first we have to survive the stage of tomorrow,” Mollema cautioned, “it’s a tricky finish, so that’s the first goal now. I have confidence for the TT, I did a good prologue and I have trained a lot on the TT bike in the last months.  We have been working specifically on that, so I hope to defend second place or at least stay on the podium.”



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