Bauke Mollema capitalised on his breakaway ride on stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana on Friday, sprinting to the podium. However the day did not go as well for his Belkin teammates Laurens ten Dam and Stef Clement who were both forced to abandon the final grand tour of 2013.
Mollema was forced to hose down any GC hopes he had for the Vuelta after some disappointing performances in the first week but Friday's result showed that the Dutchman may have the form to post some solid stage results. He finished third behind stage winner Warren Barguil (Team Argos-Shimano) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) - Barguil with a seven second advantage over the pair of chasers.
"Everybody was attacking each other in the end," explained Mollema of the finale. "Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) rode away in the last K, and it's like that, no one wanted to chase, and he won. At the start, I was feeling really good, but on the last steep climb, I was not feeling really good anymore. I got third. I was close to victory.
"I will go for the breaks," the Belkin rider continued. "I am more than 30 minutes back on GC, so hopefully I can win a stage in the next week."
Clement meanwhile crashed on a high-speed decent midway through the 169km stage. Misjudging a corner, Clement collided with a guardrail and landed with his back and hip taking the brunt of the impact. While initially attempting to re-join the race with a new bike, the 30-year-old found he could not continue. He has since been cleared of serious injury with no broken bones and hopes to make the Belkin squad for the team time trial at the world championships.
"I regained contact at the base of the climb, but it was impossible," Clement explained. "I was soon alone, and then it's no use. I would not have made the time cut. Now I go home and put things back together."
Ten Dam had been struggling for a few days, having crashed on Wednesday during the individual time trial. Like Mollema, he too had come into the Vuelta with high hopes for a good result on GC.
"The legs didn't get any better and I had to pull out," Ten Dam said. "There is no use in trying to suffer for 10 more days, so I am going home to recover and try to be ready for the world championships. I have to let my injury heal. I got through yesterday's stage, but today I felt even worse in the morning. There are so many climbs left in the Vuelta, there is no room for recovery. It's a little disappointing to leave the Vuelta, but that's the good thing about cycling. There are always new goals. The world championship is a good course for me. Now I will I reset the target."
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