Mollema motivated for title defence at Tour of Alberta

Trek-Segafredo leader in first race since Olympic Games

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) has had a rollercoaster ride of a summer, climbing into a possible podium finish at the Tour de France but then falling out of the top 10 after crashing.

He rebounded with a win at the Classica San Sebastian and then finished 17th in the Olympic Road Race before taking a well-deserved break. He returns to racing this week in Canada at the Tour of Aberta, a UCI 2.1 race that he won last year.

"It's a special race for me," Mollema said of the Canadian tour at the pre-race press conference Wednesday in Lethbridge. "When you win it's always nice to come back. I'm motivated to go."

The race starts Thursday with an evening circuit race in Lethbridge, then traverses the Alberta plains before finishing Monday in Edmonton. Although several stages are repeats from previous years, the 2016 race lacks the summit finish that Mollema used to seal his 2015 overall win.

Aside from the time bonuses available during the mass-start stages, the most critical day of the relatively flat route will be the 12km individual time trial on the penultimate day. The race will be fast and aggressive, and riders like Mollema won't have the climbing stage to distance the majority of the peloton.

"Last year we started with the team time trial and we were in front from then on," Mollema said. "It's just different this year. We have to see the first days. We're not here with a favourite for the sprints, but we have to be careful for breakaways and be aggressive. I think we have several strong guys who can also do a good time trial, and I think that day will very important for the classification."

Mollema will be joined on the start line by experienced teammates Frank Schleck and Ryder Hesjedal, both of whom will retire at the end of this year. He'll also have the services of Belgian strongman Stijn Devolder, Julian Arredondo, Piet Allegaert, Gregory Rast and Peter Stetina.

Devolder could prove to be an invaluable teammate if Alberta's notorious winds start blowing across the peloton, while both Schleck and Hesjedal provide the team with multiple options if Mollema falters.

"This is the first race after my break, so I'm not sure about my level, but I have been training well and you always hope to do well," Mollema said. "I did well in some of the time trials this year, so if I don't lose time on the first days we will see what's possible there. But it's still five days of hard racing; that's not easy."

Hesjedal previously downplayed his own chances, saying that it's hard to predict which riders will rise to the top as the race progresses, but on Wednesday he went all in for Mollema.

"With Bauke here winning the race last year, it was a great battle between the team I was on last year [Cannondale] and this team, so now to be teammates with him, I think that's a pretty cool place to be," Hesjedal said.

"The first year I did the race we won with Rohan Dennis, so it would be nice to finish like that again." 

Related Articles

Back to top