Last time out, in Rio de Janeiro, he finished 17th, the best-placed finisher from the Dutch squad, though 3:31 down on gold medallist Greg Van Avermaet. The Olympics then came two weeks after the end of a Tour de France where he finished 11th, and a week after he won the Clásica San Sebastián.
This year, he comes straight from a full Tour campaign where he finished 20th and won the hilly stage 14 to Quillan. He told WielerFlits that he's in the perfect condition six days after finishing the Tour.
"My condition of the Tour is now the perfect basis," Mollema told WielerFlits. "It's certainly a nice boost to go to Tokyo with a stage win. The biggest challenge will be to cope with the jet lag and the conditions on site in terms of humidity and extreme heat. It is difficult to estimate how my body will react to this and many will suffer.
"[In 2016] I then had enough time to recover from that Tour. I certainly don't want to use that Tour as an excuse. No, I just felt good in Rio de Janeiro. I just had a bad day there at the wrong time. Now, I only have to train a bit in Tokyo."
Mollema has raced in Japan before, of course. The 34-year-old has raced the season-ending Japan Cup three times in the past, winning the race in 2015 and 2019. It's a different kettle of fish to the Olympic Games road race, the late October race not being one which riders peak for, but it shows that he has experience of acclimatising to the time zone, at least.
"Two out of three times I've been to Japan, I won that race," he said. "I think Japan is a beautiful country. For the Japan Cup we flew to Tokyo just four days before the race.
"But yes, the Japan Cup is on a completely different level. My experience of those three visits is that I have little trouble with jet lag. I've never suffered from jet lag anyway. In recent years I have become accustomed to not sleeping much. So even if I sleep a little less in Tokyo, I won't worry too much about it."
Mollema said that he consciously rode the Tour with the Olympics in mind, picking certain days during the three-week race to push himself. He added that he has seen the full Tour as the perfect preparation for the road race, despite some riders – Vincenzo Nibali and Mathieu van der Poel, included – pulling out early in order to prepare for their Olympic bids.
"In the final week of the Tour I consciously drove with Tokyo in mind. I chose one or two more days to see if there were opportunities to join the good break," he said. "With Tokyo in mind, I certainly didn't want to empty myself for 10th or 15th place on a stage. I was mainly busy preparing myself for Tokyo as best as possible.
"I saw the Tour de France as the best preparation for the Olympic Games. That is different as a classification rider, because then you have to work every day. The focus and the stress also demand a lot from you.
"In my view it would have only become more complicated for me if I had left the Tour earlier. Then you still have to train at home or there in Japan under difficult circumstances. Now all I have to do is recover from the Tour's efforts for a few days. Maybe two hours a day."
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