Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quickstep) are set to fight for the podium places at Tirreno-Adriatico after impressing for yet another day on the Terminillo snow-covered finish on Sunday.
Neither were able to match Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who barring disaster will win Tirreno-Adriatico after Tuesday’s final time trial. However Mollema and Uran are separated by just nine seconds in the general classification. Mollema is second overall at 39 seconds, with Uran at third at 48 seconds, making every second vital in the final time trial. The pair will also have to watch their backs, with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) fourth overall, at 57 seconds.
Mollema was five seconds slower than Uran in the opening 5.4km time trial in Lido di Camaiore on Wednesday, meaning it will be a close race in the final 10km time trial.
Mollema earned his place as second overall with a brave and impressive solo pursuit of Quintana in the final kilometres of the stage to Terminillo. He was unable to catch him but gained 14 seconds on Uran, Contador and a select few others that also included Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge).
“I am very happy with my performance today. I really wanted to do a good result. I wanted to fight for the victory and do a good result in the GC, so I am happy with my result,” the Dutchman said after recovering from the cold and snow on the Trek team bus.
“It wasn’t a hard climb, but it was a long climb, so I knew I wanted to wait until the last 5km and save my energy. My team did a great job for me, and I was following the moves, and then I waited for the right moment. I went full-gas for 30 seconds, and I saw that I had a gap, and I went hard to the finish.
“Nine seconds on Uran isn’t much and he’s a strong guy on the time trial. I will fight for the podium for sure, and I will give everything I have in the time trial.”
Uran ready to fight for second overall
Uran confirmed he is ready to defend his second place overall behind Quintana, confident of his time trialing ability.
“Nairo was very strong. He attacked very far, and he’s shown he’s in better condition than the rest of us. I tried to be there with the other favourites,” he said, speaking through a tiny space in an open window of a team vehicle as the riders awaited the general evacuation down from a snow-covered Terminillo.
“I would be happy to finish on the podium in a race of this level. I always give the maximum on a climb like this, especially because the time trial is only 10km, it’s not one of 50km.”
Uran raced for much of the climb with his jersey open. He and the other leading riders avoided much of the heavy snow that fell in he final minutes but the peloton and especially the many gruppettos were hit hard and suffered. Uran saw his teammates come in covered in snow and very cold.
“The truth is today was very extreme, but even worse were the ones behind us, riders like Cavendish in the gruppetto. They were really suffering. Those of us at the front of the race, we only caught the front end of the heavy snow. Those in the gruppetto had more snow than the rest of us,” he pointed out.
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