Stage 11 at the Vuelta a España did little to change the positions of the top general classification contenders however, Rabobank's Bauke Mollema can be thankful he didn’t drop further down the ranks after a poor day in the time trial.
"It didn’t really start right, because I almost missed a turn in the beginning, said Mollema on Rabosport. "I recovered well but my chain came off on the climb and I had to switch bikes. I nevertheless regained my focus afterwards, but in the descent I missed a turn and crashed - fortunately nothing serious. After that, I didn’t really feel comfortable on the bike anymore and it was a question of damage control."
Mollema held the lead for a single day in last year’s Vuelta. However, it was his time trial ability that saw him lose the lead following his performance during the flat, 47km TT in Salamanca.
He wasn’t however, expected to lose so much time in this year’s race when he began the 39.4km race from Cambados to Pontevdra. His 38th-place and 2:59 deficit to stage winner Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) was just enough to keep him in the top-ten, albeit with a 5:10 gap to Joaquim Rodríguez.
Teammates Robert Gesink and Laurens ten Dam enjoyed a better day, especially ten Dam, who rode to a top-20 in the stage. Gesink began well, crossing the first intermediate point, at 13.5km, in fourth place and only 8 seconds down but by the top of the climb he had lost more than a minute. He eventually finished the stage in 12th, 1:42 behind Kessiakoff.
"I gave it all I had uphill. The first part of the descent didn’t go well, but after that I got back into my rhythm. I rode the time trial full on, and that will have to do. It can’t be any other way," said Gesink.
Rabobank sports director Adri van Houwelingen was content with his team’s performance, who once again took out the day’s team classification, extending their lead to Sky to 1:58.
"You obviously hope you can get a little closer to the GC’s top four, but unfortunately that was not the case today. Nevertheless, we don’t have to be dissatisfied. We’ve still got three men in the top ten, and the difference between the four best and Robert is not astronomical. We’re halfway, and he’s two and a half minutes behind the leader. That’s not that bad," said van Houwelingen.