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Giro d'Italia: Mollema gains time on hard day in the Dolomites

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Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) finishing just behind Dutch compatriot Steven Kruijswijk

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) finishing just behind Dutch compatriot Steven Kruijswijk
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Bauke Mollema responding to the moves

Bauke Mollema responding to the moves
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Bauke Mollema signing autographs for the fans

Bauke Mollema signing autographs for the fans
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Following several tough Giro d'Italia stages which saw him drop from third to seventh overall, Bauke Mollema showed signs of recovery on the short, sharp and mountainous stage 18 to Ortisei to take back time on several of his rivals.

While the Trek-Segafredo rider managed to take back 42 seconds on Dutch compatriot and maglia Tom Dumoulin, he remains in seventh place overall with three stages to race.

On the morning of the stage 14 summit finish at Oropa, Mollema was sitting in third place overall. However, Mollema dropped to sixth place overall and went backwards again on the queen stage to Bormio. On the fifth and final climb of stage 18, Mollema was one of several riders to benefit from the podium contenders watching each other to skip off the front. Mollema and Steven Kruijswijk crossed the line together, 34 seconds down on stage winner Tejay van Garderen. The result was Mollema's sixth top-ten of the Giro.

"It was full gas racing all day; really one of the hardest days on the bike, and certainly of this Giro," Mollema explained. "I felt pretty good today. On the last climb near the top I tried to attack once, and then the guys came back. Then Pinot and Pozzovivo they went, and it's a pity that they took some time on me. But also behind I think Jungels, Formolo, they lost a lot of time, so that was good. Yeah, it was just one of those days you'll not forget so fast."

While less than two minutes separate the top five overall, Mollema finds himself 1:10 minute down on sixth-placed Domenico Pozzovivo, and with a 2:31 minute buffer on Kruijswijk. With two stages to come in the mountains and the final day Monza to Milan time trial, Mollema could improve his position. The 30-year-old already has three top-ten Tour de France results and fourth place at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana on his palmares.

"I hope that I feel good again tomorrow, it will not be easy to recover from a day like this, but I think in general I am feeling a bit better than a few days ago," added Mollema. "So I just have to keep going I guess and see what is possible."

With the Giro d'Italia his primary season objective, Mollema's next aim is to support teammate Alberto Contador in his quest for a third Tour de France title.