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Profronde van Surhuisterveen criterium podium (L-R): Chris Froome, Bauke Mollema and Lieuwe Westra
Belkin's GC hopes hit hard
Belkin endured a 'ride to forget' on stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana with both their GC hopes fading on the Peñas Blancas.
Heading into the decisive stage, Bauke Mollema was within a minute of the race lead, and with Laurens ten Dam at 1:12 the team had reasons to be optimistic as the peloton raced towards another summit finish.
However with sustained pressure from Netapp-Endura and then a flurry of attacks from the overall contenders both Belkin leaders found themselves on the back foot. By the end of the climb ten Dam had conceded another 59 seconds, while Mollema had lost 2:33. Ten dam now sits in 17th place, 2:02 down on race leader Nicolas Roche, with Mollema in 25th, 3:12 in arrears.
“With 11 kilometres to go I reached out for a gel in my back pocket and banged my elbow against a sign above the road,” ten Dam said after the stage.
“It really hurt and I found it quite difficult to get back into the rhythm. Despite the fact that standing on the bike's pedals was hard, I still managed to catch up with the front. However, at that moment, there was an attack and I blew up. I’ll just have to wait and see how my elbow reacts but this is a downer because the legs were pretty good.”
Mollema, who finished 6th in this year’s Tour de France, admitted that he simply didn’t have the legs once the peloton reached the final climb. He was forced to sit up and ride at his own pace.
“At the beginning of the stage and at the foot of the final climb, I already felt my legs weren’t at their best. When I was dropped, I started riding my own pace. In the last kilometres, I was able to accelerate and take back some time. It’s a pity I lose this much time because the whole week I’ve felt good. But well, tomorrow is another day.”