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"Everybody was attacking each other in the end. Warren Barguil rode away in the last K, and it's like that, no one wanted to chase, and he won. At the start, I was feeling really good, but on the last steep climb, I was not feeling...

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson

BAUKE MOLLEMA

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LAURENS TEN DAM

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LUIS LEÓN SÁNCHEZ

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STEF CLEMENT

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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06.09.2013 @ 21:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was a day of highs and lows for Team Belkin in the Vuelta a Espana. Bauke Mollema made it into the right breakaway and finished 3rd on the stage but GC rider Laurens Ten Dam and time trial specialist Stef Clement were both forced to abandon.

 

When Bauke Mollema fell out of GC contention, he promised to try to win a stage. After the initial disappointment, he showed good morale by making good on his promise on today's 13th stage.

 

The Dutchman made it into the 10-rider breakaway that decided the win and was one of the most active when it came to chase down the late attacks. However, he ran out of power when eventual winner Warren Barguil attacked and had to settle for 3rd when he was beaten by Rinaldo Nocentini in the sprint for 2nd.

 

"Everybody was attacking each other in the end," he said. "Warren Barguil rode away in the last k, and it's like that, no one wanted to chase, and he won. At the start, I was feeling really good, but on the last steep climb, I was not feeling really good anymore. I got third. I was close to victory, so I have to be happy. I will go for the breaks. I am more than 30 minutes back on GC, so hopefully I can win a stage in the next week."

 

Unfortunately, Belkin lost GC captain Laurens Ten Dam. The Dutchman went down in a crash in the time trial and suffered through yesterday's stage. Today the pain got too much.

 

"The legs didn't get any better and I had to pull out," he said. "There is no use in trying to suffer for 10 more days, so I am going home to recover and try to be ready for the world championships. I have to let my injury heal. I got through yesterday's stage, but today I felt even worse in the morning. There are so many climbs left in the Vuelta, there is no room for recovery. It's a little disappointing to leave the Vuelta, but that's the good thing about cycling. There are always new goals. The world championship is a good course for me. Now I will I reset the target."

 

More bad luck struck when Stef Clement crashed on a descent later in the race. The time trial specialist had to abandon and so Belkin is now left with only 6 riders.

 

"I misjudged a corner, hit the guardrail, and landed hard on my back and hip," he said. "I got a new bike and tried to continue. I regained contact at the base of the climb, but it was impossible. I was soon alone, and then it's no use. I would not have made the time cut."

 

"Now I go home and put things back together. I hope to return for the world team time trial championship, but you have to be strong to make that team. The doctor and osteopath checked it out, and there's nothing broken. I was lucky. If the guardrail was not there, then it was 50 meters down into a ravine. And you can hit the guardrail wrong. I remember a rider last year got a 30-centimeter gash in his stomach in a similar crash. It's like that for us every day. I have to put it past me and keep pushing."

 

The team will now target stage wins in the remaining part of the race. Luckily, they have of the best escape artists in their ranks. Luis-Leon Sanchez saved energy today and has targeted the many difficult stages in the final part of the race.

 

"It was a very fast race," he said. "There was a heavy crash, and everyone had to stop. Bauke got into the breakaway, so that was good for the team. It's too bad Laurens had to stop, but he said before the start that he was not feeling good from his crash in the time trial. Now we are arriving at some promising stages when the breakaways will be successful. It's going to be some nervous racing. My legs are feeling good. I think my chances are pretty good."

 

Sanchez will get his first chance in tomorrow's first Pyrenean stage. Starting at 14.45 CEST you can follow it on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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