Another podium for Mollema, mountains prize for Skujiņš

Trek-Segafredo highly active for the second race of the Challenge Mallorca

Despite the altered route for the second race of the Challenge Mallorca, which made it less favorable for the climbers, Bauke Mollema used his excellent form and aggressive racing and finished third for the second straight day. The victory went to Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe), who soloed the final 20 kilometers, with Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) out-gunning Mollema for second place.

Overnight storms had washed away a road that was part of the race circuit, leaving the organizers to change the route and pushing the most significant climb of the day, the category-one Puig Major, much further from the finish.

“They changed the parcours which made the final more flat, which was a bit of a pity, at least for me because the long climb was much further from the finish,” explained Mollema. “But in the end, we were still like only 25 guys left in the final, it was more or less flat and some really small hills and attacking all the time. It was difficult to control the race with the wind and all the guys riding so aggressive. I managed to bridge to a breakaway of 6-7 guys in the last 10 kilometers, Buchmann was already in the front, he did a really strong race, 20kms alone, so he really deserved the win.

“Straightway when I got in this group, I attacked again with Tim Wellens and Peter Weening, and we were riding for second place as Buchmann was already too far in front. But I am happy about these first two races for the start of the season. The feeling is good, the form is good, and it’s really nice to start off with two podium places, and hopefully, I can take a victory soon.”

The race was aggressive from the start, and the rain had made the roads slick causing many crashes. A four-man break eventually formed that included Toms Skujiņš.

It was a fast start and very slippery with the rain. The plan was for me to go in the break and I wish it had been more guys. There was a bunch of crashes in the beginning, and the peloton split numerous times on the descents. I got super lucky today and avoided a lot of crashes; there were guys crashing right in front of me. I think thanks to the tire choice and the disc brakes, I was confident, and I never had to correct my line, so I managed to avoid the crashes and was able to get in the breakaway.

From the breakaway, Skujiņš gobbled up the early mountain points on offer and summited the final climb, Puig Major, first to seal the win in the mountains prize.

“We rolled pretty well, but then one of the guys crashed out of the break after like 90kms and then on the long climb we lost the third guy, so there was just two of us. No one really challenged for the first mountain points, and I rolled over the line first and then I thought I might as well go for them. It’s nice to be representing the team on the podium – it’s the little things in life, right? It nice to just have some fun,” said Skujiņš.

Skujiņš was eventually reeled in with 24 kilometers remaining, and soon after Buchmann made his winning move.

Maybe if it would have continued to rain, we would have had a better chance to stay away, but with the change in the parcours, the last 40kms were really open, and a headwind and it was a done deal for the breakaway.

It was a done deal for the breakaway, but Trek-Segafredo still had reserves with Mollema, Michael Gogl and Gianluca Brambilla making the first group over Puig Major.  A feisty Mollema attacked his way onto the podium while Brambilla (6th) and Gogl (15th) gave the team a good showing for the second race of the four-day event.

“Today was another really hard day, like always in Mallorca, and there were a lot of crashes in the start because it was really slippery,” echoed Mollema. “Toms got in a breakaway, so that was a good situation for us. I think the team spirit was really high again today, and we worked well together.”

Tomorrow the Challenge Mallorca continues with the third race, another grueling test for the climbers with the sprinters having a chance on Sunday.