LottoNL-Jumbo’s Robert Gesink advertised his current good form Tuesday during the stage 10 finish in La Pierre Saint Martin, attacking the select lead group on the early slopes of the 15km final climb up Col de Soudet and eventually finishing fourth on the stage.
The 29-year-old Dutch rider, who injured his knee in training earlier this year, moved from 15th overall at the start of the day to eighth by the end of the stage.
“I’m exhausted but happy,” Gesink said of his stage 10 performance. “I saw people getting dropped but felt good myself and decided to be crazy and give it a go. We didn’t discuss anything, but I knew that when the big men began accelerating, they would go too fast for me. I anticipated and it worked out well today.”
Movistar led the peloton into the climb, hoping to set up team leader Nairo Quintana, but it was Gesink who jumped away first as word spread that the Movistar pace was starting to take a toll on the lead group.
Team Sky’s Richie Porte eventually pulled Quintana and teammate Chris Froome back onto terms with Gesink before Froome went on to take the stage, with Porte next and Quintana third.
Gesink held on for fourth, but he admitted later that he had thought briefly about the stage win.
“I thought about it for a moment,” he said. “But looking back, I should have done that. I don’t quite realise what has happened. Today I had a super day. I felt strong. I’m happy. I wonder what’s in store for me tomorrow.”
LottoNL-Jumbo coach Merijn Zeeman was ecstatic about Gesink’s result.
“Things didn’t always go as planned for us this year, and Robert has had his share of setbacks as well,” Zeeman said. “It is fantastic what he did today. I’m happy for him. I’m touched now and at a loss for words. This is wonderful to experience. We have to go a long way, though. We’re just getting started now because today was the first mountain stage."
Robert Gesink attacks on the final climb of stage 10 at the 2015 Tour de France.
Mollema hoped for more on climb to La Pierre-Saint-Martin
Bauke Mollema’s performance on the stage 10 final climb to La Pierre-Saint-Martin left something to be desired. The Trek Factory Racing rider was dropped from the lead group in the first third of the 15km ascent, along with the Tour's defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-QuickStep), crossing the finish line in 17th place, 4:09 minutes behind stage winner and overall leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).
“I just couldn’t go fast. At the bottom of the climb, the speed was so high and I just couldn’t follow. I tried to go as fast as possible to the top and I was with Nibali all the time. But I just didn’t have any power in the legs,” Mollema said in a team press release, disappointed about his performance on the first mountain stage of the Tour de France.
“It was a really easy start until the last 20-25 kilometers; it was just easy all day. But then you knew the last climb was going to be full gas but, yeah, I don’t know…I was hoping for more today and it just didn’t go as I wanted.
“Our group was going okay in the last five kilometers, but I think in the steep part we lost a lot of time. In the last kilometer I knew I had to give everything to the finish. But in the end it was a lot of time lost today.”
Mollema may have lost a significant amount of time to Froome on the climb but he did move up to 11th place overall (from 16th place after the team time trial). He is now 7:15 behind Froome.
“I don’t have an explanation - I really felt good until today. I knew that today would tell me something about the field; it was a surprise, though, what I found, and not in what I had hoped to see,” Mollema said.
“The gaps are substantial, but the GC battle for me is not over. Let’s see for the next days.”
Rafael Valls joins Robert Gesink up the road during stage 10.