Ahead of his Opening Weekend debut, the Dutchman talks to Trek-Segafredo about why now is finally the time to tackle the two races which some believe mark the official start of the cycling season.
In his career to date, Bauke Mollema has achieved what some riders only ever dream of. He’s won two stages of the Tour de France, a stage of the Vuelta a España, plus he has a Monument victory at Il Lombardia to his name.
But, the 36-year-old is as passionate about the sport as when he first turned professional in 2008 and is as motivated as ever to gain new experiences and set himself new challenges in the world of cycling.
When announcing his new contract with the Team in 2022, Mollema said:
"I’ve always said that I still feel quite young. I’ve been a professional for 15 years, but I still really like what I do. I like to train hard. I like to race. I like to be competitive and get the best out of my body, I am constantly trying to improve and setting new goals for myself, even now.”
This weekend (25 – 26 February), Mollema will be doing just that, he will be heading out on a relatively unknown path as he takes to the start line of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurn-Brussels-Kuurne for the first time in his 16-year career.
It looks like Bauke enjoyed the race recon!
Some might ask why? Why has it taken so long for him to race here? Why is 2023 the year to do it? We’ll let him explain that…
“It’s not that I have been actively avoiding Omloop Het Nieuwsblad or Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne but it’s just that I’ve always been focused on other races at this time of year, I’ve had other goals. However, over the last couple of years I have thought a few times about doing these races and finally it’s the moment. I’m motivated for them both and they also fit into both my schedule and the team’s.
“I have really been looking forward to this coming weekend and I’ve tried to get myself into good form for this period but, of course, as I have never raced here I still don’t know really what to expect.
“The World Championships in Leuven 2021 is probably the race that I have done in my career that comes closest to Opening Weekend but, for the rest, I have almost never raced in Flanders. This year, I really just want to give it a try and see if these races suit me plus I also want enjoy the atmosphere in Belgium, as from the outside looking in, it always looks really special.”