Following several tough Giro d'Italia stages which saw him drop from third to seventh overall, Bauke Mollema showed signs of recovery on the short, sharp and mountainous stage 18 to Ortisei to take back time on several of his rivals.
On the morning of the stage 14 summit finish at Oropa, Mollema was sitting in third place overall. However, Mollema dropped to sixth place overall and went backwards again on the queen stage to Bormio. On the fifth and final climb of stage 18, Mollema was one of several riders to benefit from the podium contenders watching each other to skip off the front. Mollema and Steven Kruijswijk crossed the line together, 34 seconds down on stage winner Tejay van Garderen. The result was Mollema's sixth top-ten of the Giro.
"It was full gas racing all day; really one of the hardest days on the bike, and certainly of this Giro," Mollema explained. "I felt pretty good today. On the last climb near the top I tried to attack once, and then the guys came back. Then Pinot and Pozzovivo they went, and it's a pity that they took some time on me. But also behind I think Jungels, Formolo, they lost a lot of time, so that was good. Yeah, it was just one of those days you'll not forget so fast."
While less than two minutes separate the top five overall, Mollema finds himself 1:10 minute down on sixth-placed Domenico Pozzovivo, and with a 2:31 minute buffer on Kruijswijk. With two stages to come in the mountains and the final day Monza to Milan time trial, Mollema could improve his position. The 30-year-old already has three top-ten Tour de France results and fourth place at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana on his palmares.
"I hope that I feel good again tomorrow, it will not be easy to recover from a day like this, but I think in general I am feeling a bit better than a few days ago," added Mollema. "So I just have to keep going I guess and see what is possible."