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Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Ion Izagirre (Movistar) crash during stage 4
Belkin captain ready for the pavé regardless of weather
Chris Froome (Team Sky) may have been the high profile crash victim of stage four of the Tour de France but he wasn't the only rider who arrived in Lille nursing wounds. Belkin's GC candidate Bauke Mollema avoided any major injury and explained he was unsure how he ended up on the ground just ahead of where the defending champion fell.
"I don't know what happened really, there was a crash on the left side with Froome and then I was past the crash and [Jon] Izagirre, the Spanish champion, he crashed right in front of me like 20 metres after the crash," Mollema said.
"I don't know if he rode on a bidon or something happened with his handlebar but then I was on the ground. It was not a big problem. There are no real effects from it, just small bruises but nothing serious."
Having sustained only superficial injuries, Mollema isn't too phased about racing on the pavé of stage 5 although the 27-year-old has never before raced Paris-Roubaix.
"It's ok for me, everybody knows and everybody has seen the parcours, its part of cycling to ride on the cobbles so I have no problem with that," he said. "It will probably be really dangerous with some crashes, but that's part of cycling."
The last time the Tour made an excursion into the pavé was in 2010 on a hot and dusty day. The forecast for the 2014 rendezvous however is for wet conditions but Mollema is confident that his team is prepared, regardless of the weather.
"It's a key stage, a dangerous one, especially with the possibility of rain," he said. "I'm not afraid. In dry circumstances, it would have been an important day, as well. We have a strong team suited for tomorrow's stage. We reconned it earlier this year and know the strategic points."
Mollema is tipping teammates Sep Vanmarcke and Lars Boom — both have finished top-ten at Roubaix — for good results and expects the cobbled specialists to battle it out for the stage win and possibly a yellow jersey as well.
"Vanmarcke, Boom they look pretty good," Mollema said. "I think guys like [Fabian] Cancellara, [Niki] Terpstra, and other guys from Pairs-Roubaix, maybe even Kwiatkowski also if it will be a sprint from a smaller group."