Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) bounced back from a tough day in the Swiss Alps and made it through the Tour de France's final time trial with his podium place intact. Mollema had seen his advantage almost disappear during stage 17 to Finhaut but recovered well enough to slow the incoming tide.
He was unable to repeat his stunning time trial performance of a week ago and lost some seconds to a few of his rivals but managed to maintain his second place overall. With two more mountain stages to come, he has 24 seconds on the next best rider Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and 45 on Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
"I felt much better today, and I think, for GC, it was a really good day for me especially in the end. I could do a good pace, and it was a really hard time trial," Mollema said after stopping en-route to a team car. "I have done good things for my ranking. Such a trial can have serious implications. I felt good on the bike; I had good power in the legs, and I'm glad I was better than in the stage on Wednesday. Now I have to fight the coming days and hope that I can hold my podium."
Mollema was the penultimate rider to complete the course, with only yellow jersey Chris Froome behind him. He posted a strong time on the Cote de Domancy but slipped back as the road leveled out. For his effort, Mollema chose to ride his normal road bike with clip-on aero bars. He also opted for a disc wheel at the back and deep-sectioned rims on the front. The top two finishers decided to go with time trial bikes, but Mollema was happy with his decision.
"For sure, I really thought well about this choice. I think it was the best choice for me," he said. "I've been training on this bike already it was a really light bike, close to 6.8 kilos for a mountain TT like this. I still have a good position for climbing so I think that I made the right choice."
The only hiccup for Mollema during the time trial was losing his bidon so early on after it fell out of its bottle cage. "I think immediately at the start. I rode into a pothole and then saw that I had lost it," he said with a smile. "Luckily the time trial only lasted half an hour, but it would have been nice to have a drink. I had a nice dry mouth along the way."