Team reactions positive after the Tour de Suisse concludes Sunday
The two big races used for Tour de France preparation, the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse, have completed and now the analyses begin – who’s on track and who needs to step it up will be the talk of the GC favorites everywhere. On July 7th, all will be ready regardless – at least as best they can – but at this moment, come the questions.
For Bauke Mollema and Trek-Segafredo, the two WorldTour races provided the best race preparation for the big event in July. This year Mollema deviated from his norm and started the Tour de Suisse in favor of the Dauphine and finished in 12th place. He went into the final stage 34-kilometer time trial holding 10th GC but couldn’t find his usual good sensations and dropped two spots.
“Yeah I didn’t do a good TT today,” agreed Mollema. “The start was okay, but the second and third part I couldn’t get the heart rate up. I could only go one regular steady pace, and couldn’t really go deep and suffer like you need to in a TT.
“It was not a good TT, but in the end, I didn’t even lose so much time to many of the GC guys so actually when I see the times and the feeling I had, it was maybe not as bad as I thought. So if I would have had a good day, I would have been up there. I lost positions in GC and that’s a pity but my feelings I had today were not good at all.”
While some look at the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse as indicators of who will be riding well in July, it’s generally not the case for Mollema. Of course, last year he targeted the Giro d’Italia (and finished 7th) and entered the Tour de France at less than his top form as a key support rider for Alberto Contador. Mollema found his legs back in the second half and ended up with a huge stage 15 victory.
And we all remember 2016. Mollema fell ill in the Dauphine and abandoned, but weeks later in the Tour de France, he was fighting with Chris Froome and Richie Porte for the overall podium until a crash in the final days ended this dream.
“If I look on Bauke, maybe it is a good thing he is where he is,” reasoned director Kim Andersen on Mollema’s 12th place. “There are still three weeks to the start of the Tour, and five weeks to the hard, last week and if we look the last two years, when he has done Dauphine, he was never good, but here, he was there and missing just a little. So we hope this bodes well. Of course, we always want to win a race, but I think this is the positive thing we can take with us from the Tour de Suisse.”
Mollema knew he did not have good feelings in the time trial Sunday, but with his eye on a much bigger prize in July, he did not let his subpar performance affect his morale or motivation:
“I think I really needed this week to make another step – I am really happy about this week even with the final result. I think it was the best possible preparation for the Tour. Now I still have three weeks to go to make another step. I have confidence I am on the right plan and schedule for the Tour.”
The team supporting Mollema in the Tour de France has yet to be decided, but the squad will likely be selected from the riders who competed at the Dauphine and Suisse races.
Although two fifth places were the top results at the Tour de Suisse this week, the teamwork and fighting in breakaways were present throughout the race.
“We had a better Tour de Suisse than last year,” pointed out Andersen, “so we are coming out with better morale. The team was working quite good, we hoped for a little bit more in the climbs with the GC leaders, and Michael (Gogl) was close and really fighting for a stage win.
“I know in the end we don’t have the result, but we had great team spirit; everyone was working so hard for each other. What we saw from Jasper (Stuyven) yesterday, fighting for John (Degenkolb) in the sprint was really, really nice to see because we had made the decision to go for John, and we all were 100 percent committed to it. That’s important.”