Bauke Mollema overcame a rough moment in the first of two long mountain climbs of stage 20 to finish strongly on the last ascent, and ended the final road stage in the 100th Giro d'Italia in ninth place, safely securing his seventh place in the overall.
"Hard climb, hard day again," said Mollema. "On the second-last climb, the Grappa, I had some problems, and I was dropped in one moment, and I kept fighting and came back, but then on the last climb I felt a little better to be in the Dumoulin group."
As expected, the GC battle exploded on the last uphill of the three-week race, with Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) instigating a dangerous move with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), while race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and third place Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) chased. Thibault Pinot (FDJ) successfully bridged to the chasing pair, and they eventually pulled back the two leaders to create a commanding group of five.
Precariously missing was second overall Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), who led a small group that included Bauke Mollema in a furious chase over the last uphill kilometers and for most of the final 10 undulating kilometers.
Even with a few members of the group giving Dumoulin a hand, they were unable to reduce the deficit to the five leaders and arrived at the finish 15 seconds in arrears.
"I think we worked pretty well together, I was hoping we would come back to go for the stage [win], so I was also pulling hard," explained Mollema. "In the end, we didn't come back, but that's how it goes."
With one stage to go, a 29.3-kilometer individual time trial, and Mollema nearly four minutes ahead of eighth, he will easily retain seventh place. Mollema knows the 93 second he needs to gain to move into sixth may be too much to overcome, rather, he is seeking one last good effort to end his Giro with high morale.
"I think in the last days the feeling was a little a little bit better than last week, but I have not found my best form in this Giro," continued Mollema. "I don't know why; I don't really have an explanation for it. But yeah, anyway I think this is my place for now, I have a big gap behind, and we'll see tomorrow in the TT. I hope to finish with a really good TT, and go home with some good feelings."