Mollema: I'm aiming for the Giro d'Italia before supporting Contador at the Tour

Bauke Mollema has confirmed that he will lead Trek-Segafredo at the Giro d'Italia in 2017 before supporting Alberto Contador's attempt to win a third Tour de France crown.

Mollema has concentrated on the Tour de France for the last few years and enjoyed successes there with three top-10 places and 11th overall in this year's edition of the race. The 30-year-old had talked vaguely about his Grand Tour ambition for next year, with the Giro a potential destination but at the team's camp in Spain, he confirmed the plan to Cyclingnews.

"I'm going to do the Giro next year. The idea has been in my head since the Tour de France and when I knew that Alberto was coming to the team. Over the last weeks we've finalised it all with the team. I'll also do the Tour this year but that will be to help Contador win the race," he said.

Trek-Segafredo have beefed up their budget for 2017 and with Fabian Cancellara retiring have used that financial clout to sign Contador, John Degenkolb and a raft of other new riders. The additional arrivals has meant that a number of new objectives have been drawn up and for the first time in several years the team will head to the Giro and the Tour with two genuine contenders for the podium. This year the team had hoped that Ryder Hesjedal would spearhead their Giro challenge but the now-retired rider quit the race.

"When Alberto came I knew that the plan was for him to go the Tour and try to win. It's difficult to go to the Tour with two guys for GC. I'll help him there and I think it's good for me and my development as a rider. I want to at least try and get on the podium in the Giro. We've got an Italian sponsor and I think everything came together."

Mollema's only experience in the Giro came in 2010 when he made his Grand Tour debut. Ivan Basso – who is now part of the Trek Segafredo management – won the race, while Mollema suffered through the event.

"It was a really hard one with the weather and the course. I was really tired in the final week. It's time to go back."

The idea of changing focus from the Tour de France to the Giro was not a natural switch for Mollema, who has made the Tour his focus since 2013.

"It needed some time to settle in," he admitted.

"Over the last few years my head has always been focused on the Tour de France and for me as a rider the Tour is the most important race and where you want to perform, but after some time I started to think that the Giro is also a nice race and it's a real chance for me. It's a different race but I'm really motivated to go for it. We'll have a strong team and I want to go for every
thing, the podium and why not more. The Tour gave me a lot of confidence and while I don't know the stages that well, I think it will suit with me the uphill finishes and the two time trials.

Mollema's entire race programme for 2017 has yet to be finalised but it is likely he will start his campaign in Argentina before heading to Tirreno-Adriatico. The Classics will play less of a focus with Liége-Bastogne-Liége pencilled in.

Mollema will then face off against a strong set of riders at the Giro d'Italia with Fabio Aru, Vincenzo Nibali and Mikel Landa already confirmed for the race.

"I don't care actually," he said when asked about the potential opposition.

"It looks like there's a lot of guys doing the Giro but I'm not afraid of anybody. There are strong guys but that only makes it better if you make the podium."

"The race may be different because it's a different race. The top riders at the Giro will be at the best level but behind that the level is maybe different. That means it might be less controlled with five or six guys from Team Sky not pulling but I think that's good for me."

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