Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) came to the Giro d’Italia hoping to show the form that had put him in contention at last year’s Tour de France. The Dutchman began well and appeared to be among the top contenders in the opening week.
However, the second week saw him falter and slip down the rankings and left him fighting to keep his place in the top 10, rather than the podium he might have wanted ahead of the Giro d’Italia. Mollema said after stage 20 that while he was feeling better in the final mountain stages, he was not where he thought he could be.
"I think in the last days the feeling was a little a little bit better than last week, but I have not found my best form in this Giro," said Mollema. "I don't know why; I don't really have an explanation for it. But yeah, anyway I think this is my place, for now, I have a big gap behind, and we'll see tomorrow in the TT. I hope to finish with a really good TT, and go home with some good feelings."
Mollema did appear to be in trouble on the final mountain stage, distanced with several of his rivals on the upper slopes of the Monte Grappa, victim to the high pace set by Katusha. He was one of the last main contenders to make it back into the group of favourites before it split again on the final ascent but was a key component in the chase that helped keep his countryman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) within contention for the overall victory.
There may have been some help for a friend going on, but Mollema adds that the sniff of victory pushed him on too.
"Hard climb, hard day again," said Mollema. "On the second-last climb, the Grappa, I had some problems, and I was dropped in one moment, and I kept fighting and came back, but then on the last climb I felt a little better to be in the Dumoulin group.
"I think we worked pretty well together, I was hoping we would come back to go for the stage [win], so I was also pulling hard. In the end, we didn't come back, but that's how it goes."
Mollema goes into the final time trial with little chance of moving up or down in the overall classification, bar a disaster for either himself or one of his rivals. The Dutchman sits seventh in the standings with 1:33 the gap to overhaul if he wishes to surpass Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) and close to four minutes separating himself and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) behind.