Bauke Mollema sprints to second place in the stage two uphill finish in Portugal
Bauke Mollema sprinted to second place from a select group of climbers that arrived at the finish of stage two in the Volta ao Algarve Thursday.
The long but not terribly steep 15-kilometer climb that concluded the 188-kilometer undulating stage was not hard enough to separate the pure climbers from punchers, and it was Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) who out-sprinted the group that numbered around 20 to take the win.
It was a pretty hard day all day, up and down, a lot of steep climbs. We started the last climb with a large peloton, but we were in good position with the team. It was a strange climb, it was quite flat.
Mollema smartly bided his time for the long uphill, drafting the middle of the group, and only moved to the front with 500 meters remaining.
When the sprint launched, he jumped with Dan Martin and Geraint Thomas as Kwiatkowski quickly opened a gap. With one last effort, Mollema pulled around Martin and nipped Thomas at the line for second place.
In the last K there were still 20 guys together, there were a lot of attacks, but it's hard to make a difference on this climb. I saw the videos from last year, so I did not put too much energy into attacking and BMC and Sky still had a lot of guys there, so I just waited for the last kilometer. In the sprint, Kwiatkowski had a fast acceleration and in the last 50 meters I was able to come around Dan Martin and I passed Geraint Thomas on the line. I think second was the best that I could do today.
The race continues tomorrow with a crucial 20-kilometer time trial, and Trek-Segafredo will look to Matthias Brändle and Ryan Mullen to contest the stage, and Bauke Mollema to fight amongst the overall contenders for the final podium.
Director Seven de Jongh:
It's a good result, for sure we are happy, and also how the team rode today with John (Degenkolb) in the break. That created a situation where we didn't have to pull and could save Matthias and Ryan a bit for the time trial tomorrow.