Trek-Segafredo safely guided Bauke Mollema through a fast and long stage five to maintain his second place in the overall classification at the Tour of Guangxi Monday. The climbs at the end of the 212-kilometer race were not enough to unseat the sprinters, and it was another bunch sprint to end the fifth day.
"It was a quite hard stage today," said Mollema. "The first 50-60km it just rained attacks, and when the three guys went, it became a bit more quiet for a while. But then in the last 60km, we still had three climbs, and Movistar and Sky pulled very hard there. In the last descent, we were only seven, but with 35km to go, there was obviously not a really good understanding between the GC guys. So it all came back together, even the sprinters made it back. I was well placed and attentive at the front."
Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) timed his jump perfectly in the headwind finish and finally ended the domination by Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) in the bunch sprints, while Giacomo Nizzolo, still nursing aches and pains from the crash in yesterday's finale, was unable to take part in the fast finish.
"The pain is there," Nizzolo said, talking about the damages he sustained from the crash, "and the main thing is I don't feel straight [when sitting on the bike], but of course that is not the reason I was not there in the sprint. [That's because] I have no condition, of course, but I am working on it, and tomorrow is the last day, so I will give everything and recover the crash in the holidays afterward."
Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) padded his overall lead by two seconds, winning an intermediate sprint bonus time. He now leads Mollema by six seconds. With a likely bunch finish for the final stage Tuesday – giving five of six stages this week to the fastmen – Wellens is favored to claim the overall title, but Mollema will be attentive if an opportunity should arise.
Mollema continued: "Wellens took two seconds in the first bonification sprint, so he sits now at six seconds in GC. If I look at the parcours of tomorrow - very comparable to today's, but shorter and with two short climbs at 35-40km to go - it will be hard to catch those six seconds back. The sprinter teams will for sure work to have the stage finish in a sprint, but of course, you never know what can happen, so I will continue to race in the front and be very alert for dangerous moves."