Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema were pleased to get through the first mountain test during stage at this year’s Vuelta a España. Stage 3 finished at the top of Alto de Arrate and the Rabobank duo were only seconds behind the front four of Valverde, Rodriguez, Froome and Contador.
"Those four really stood out. Especially Contador and Valverde who accelerated a lot. But we kept coming back. Robert and I easily kept up behind those four. So this is a good day for us," Mollema told Rabosport.
Gesink and Mollema were part of the ten-rider group that came in six seconds behind the winning group and while the short and steep climb was not to the Dutchmens liking, the marginal gap was a promising sign for the coming days.
"Those accelerations were a little too much for us, but they weren’t able to pull further away either," Mollema said,
"A first uphill finish is always exciting, but it went well today. I was never a rider for this kind of explosive things, but the difference with the specialists is only six seconds," said Gesink.
It’s been a long season for Gesink who began his year at Vuelta a Andalucia in February however, he’s eager to make up for his crash-marred Tour de France where he eventually abandoned on stage 12. It will be one of the heavier racing schedules the 26-year-old has endured in the past seasons but he’s feeling confident after his result on stage 3.
"We can really achieve things with this. Obviously it is turning into a long season for me now. I was very curious to see how I would do, but the feeling is really good," Gesink said at the finish.
The Rabobank team has performed well in the opening stages and after a third-place in team time trial, sports director Adri van Houwelingen is impressed the team. The entire squad has shared the workload, looking after their general classification hopes in Gesink in Mollema throughout the past two days.
"It went like we had hoped. The gap to the favourites towards the top has been kept minimal, and the differences with other GC riders didn’t change or has even worked out in our favour. I saw good things. The team did some great work for the captains and Robert and Bauke never let go of the leaders," van Houwelingen said.