Bauke Mollema tries for victory from the breakaway while Juan Pedro Lopez rides his heart out to keep pink
Managing different objectives within a team is never easy, but Trek-Segafredo handled it perfectly in Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia – the toughest test of the race so far.
The team set two hefty pre-race goals – allowing Bauke Mollema the green light to join the day’s breakaway and fight for a stage win and defending the Maglia Rosa of Juan Pedro Lopez – and came oh, so close, to pulling off both.
“It was nice that I could still go for the stage,” said Bauke. “I mean I didn’t have to pull too much in the beginning because we were also protecting the jersey, which was also a goal today. So in the end I still had a chance for the stage and we kept pink, so a pretty good day for us, I guess.”
On a day with over four thousand uphill meters and the accelerator pressed from start to end, Trek-Segafredo managed both its objectives: Bauke fought his way into the breakaway and the Team kept control of the gap with the biggest threat up the road at five and a half minutes.
“It was full gas already in the first 60-70 kilometers,” explained Bauke, “and already a lot of splits in the peloton. In the beginning, I didn’t do too much; everyone was attacking especially on the big road on the flats, so I went for the hard moments on the climbs.
“In the end, we had a strong group with a lot of Dutch guys. I didn’t have to pull too much because we were pulling the peloton to keep the pink jersey, so it was quite a good situation for us.”
While Jacopo Mosca put in a monstrous effort in the chase (enough that we would give him double dessert at dinner!), Bauke eased into the backseat in the breakaway group.
The course took its toll and in the last part of the race, Juanpe only had Giulio Ciccone with him. “For sure it was a hard day to stay in the pink jersey. I gave my 100% on the road,” admitted Lopez. “I had one bad moment in the beginning when I had a flat tire and had to change the bike, but my teammates were there and helped me.”
We asked, if, at any point, he was worried?
“Not really but of course, I never underestimated the situation,” he answered. “My teammates did really well in handling the first part of the race, then Ineos took the lead, and we rode safely just behind. We never lost our calm and confidence to save the jersey.”
In the last kilometers, with the race lead under control, Bauke could ride. Now he had to figure out a way to beat Koen Bouwman.
“I didn’t have to do too much in the breakaway until Ineos and other teams started pulling behind and we knew that we were going to keep the pink jersey. Then I pulled a bit more in the front to go for the stage,” continued Mollema.
“I felt quite good, but I knew that Koen Bouwman was pretty fast, so I tried to attack a couple of times in the last 10 kilometers. But he was always directly on my wheel, and he also had Tom Dumoulin there to pull in the finale, so it was a difficult situation.”
It was a highly tactical and thrilling finish. In the end, the four riders arrived together to fight out the win. Dumoulin led out Bouwman, and the Jumbo teammate made no mistake in the final meters.
“I tried everything, but it was not possible to beat Bouwman in the sprint. I think in the end, it was a really nice stage, full gas all day, and hopefully there’s more chances coming up in the next weeks. Close, not enough, but at least we keep the jersey,” said Bauke.
A nearly perfect day for Trek-Segafredo, but there was a chance it could have gone wrong, admitted director Greggy Rast, who had to balance the chance of losing pink for a stage win:
“We rode smart but we also rode within our limits. With a start like this today we knew we would lose some riders but luckily Jacopo came back, and he could do a big part, and Dario (Cataldo) did well. At the top of the last climb, we only had 2 riders left and we were lucky that Ineos pulled, or we could have lost the jersey. We would not let Cicco pull for 60kms for the jersey.
“So we tried for the stage win and to keep the jersey. In the end, almost a perfect day – we are happy!”