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6 July 2016 - 16:07

Tour de France: Mollema passes first GC test in stage 5

"I thought it was perfect, and I could almost feel the slipstream. Then the lights went out. And that was it; the move was gone."

Stage five was the third straight stage of over 200 kilometers, and with six classified climbs, most jammed into the final 45 kilometers of the lengthy parcours, it was a day touted for a breakaway to ride to the end.

"About half the peloton wanted to be in a breakaway today, it was pretty crazy," said Stetina, who just missed joining the escape group. "The move started to go, and the alarms bells went off so Markel (Irizar) drilled it into a downhill and I sprinted with everything I had, but I just couldn't quite close the gap on some of the punchy hills to the guys in the front. I missed it by about 10 meters.

"For over a kilometer I tried, I was solo, and I thought I was going to get it, I thought it was perfect, and I could almost feel the slipstream. Then the lights went out. And that was it; the move was gone. The timing was just five seconds too late, but that's how it is. Then I just tried to stay with Bauke (Mollema) and shield him on the first two big climbs, and then I was done, I had done a lot of work all day.  It stings a lot (to not be there), but there are bigger mountains coming that I am happier about."

It was also a first prickly test for the overall contenders, and Bauke Mollema arrived safely with the elite group of climbers to not lose any time to his rivals. Mollema now sits in 15th overall in the same time as Sky's Chris Froome, who holds fifth place (+5'17").

"It was a hard final," agreed Mollema. "It went well for me, and I was there where I should be. We knew it was going to be hard, and the guys brought me to the front at the end when the steep climbs started.  Pete was there, and before that Markel and Gregy (Rast) did a lot to help me."

When the day's breakaway – nine riders that were eventually pared to three -  was granted a hefty 15-minute lead, it turned into a day of two races: one for the stage win between the leaders, and the other amongst the overall contenders who careful marked each other in the peloton.

While Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) proved to be the strongest of the escapees, soloing to the win and into the yellow jersey, behind Team Movistar and Team Sky set punishing paces over the final uphills to whittle the peloton to a skeleton group of climbers.

The attrition was biggest over the category-two climb 31 kilometers from the finish when Movistar took the reins at the front of the peloton, but Mollema was ready for the onslaught.

"You always have to be ready, and when Movistar put the hammer down I was there in the right moment and in the right spot and the legs were good enough," continued Mollema. "It was a good pace on the first of the three last climbs and after that, yeah, it was not easy, but more relaxed with only 30-40 guys left. But you had to be careful; there were a lot of tricky descents because the tarmac was melting. Overall, it was a good day."

When attacks flew and the pace increased from the decimated peloton in the final uphill a few kilometers from the line, Mollema successfully weathered the assualt again and crossed with an 18-rider group for 17th place on the stage. 




Tour de France

Chris Froome
Team Sky
Romain Bardet
AG2R-La Mondiale
Nairo Quintana