Bauke finishes in 3rd and puts time into most of the GC rivals in the stage 9 race against the clock.
The rain created a wet and slippery time trial for the first decisive general classification test in the 102nd Giro d’Italia Sunday, but the conditions were the same for all contenders who, after eight stages, were already lumped together in the classification.
When Bauke Mollema crossed the line and stopped the clock in a time 52 minutes and 52 seconds for the 34.8-kilometer race, he inserted into a provisional second best time behind European TT Champion and current world-hour record holder Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal), who had raced earlier in dry conditions and had been in the hot seat for a lengthy time.
But with most of the GC rivals still to arrive, Bauke was cautious:
The feeling was really good, it was just slippery in the corners with the rain, and I took it quite easy as I didn't want to take too much risk. The goal was to do the first 20k steady, not full, and give everything on the climb to make the difference. The feeling was not super on the climb, but I think I still did a pretty good time, we have to see until all the guys finish. I think it was a pretty good time compared to most of the other GC guys.
As the leading GC contenders began to arrive behind Mollema, it quickly became apparent that the Dutchman had given one of his best performances in a Grand Tour time trial, and perhaps in any time trial.
In the end, only Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), a pre-race favorite to win the Giro, bettered Mollema’s and Campenaerts’ times, leaving a dejected TT specialist, who had gunned for stage glory, and a quiet, confident Dutch climber in his wake.
For the GC guys, it was more or less similar, but for Victor, he was lucky he started early. The rain makes you slower in the corners, but it also gives you extra resistance - you lose time always riding on wet roads - so for sure he had a big advantage there. But anyway, he would still be faster than me so that would not have made a difference. But yeah, luckily, all the GC guys started close to me.
Mollema has had a successfully quiet opening week, coming into today’s first GC test in a good position, nestled around the other GC contenders. As always in the Giro, the first week is devoid of big mountains, and Mollema is aware that more significant trials await.
“So far I think I am on a good way. I am happy with the feelings I have had this first week. On the other hand, we haven’t really climbed any big climbs; we haven’t gone full with the GC guys on a climb, so it’s hard to say how my level will be in the mountains. We will see in stages 13 and 14, and maybe 12, how everyone is in the mountains,” cautioned Mollema.
And as for his exceptional result in the stage 9 time trial? On that, we had to nudge Mollema a little.
“Yeah, it’s nice to have a good result in the TT; it gives me confidence for next week,” he finally admitted.