Bauke Mollema rode in a very tense opening weekend, for the first and last time

Bauke Mollema (left) while climbing the steepest part of the Geraardsbergen Wall, where many riders are forced to get off their bikes because few have stopped in front of them.Figure Claas Jan van der Weig

Bauke Mollema had never experienced this before: he had to get off his bike and travel a bit on his unsuitable cycling shoes. “Someone in front of me slipped the wheel and headed straight for the gates. It was too slippery to hit your pedals and walk away,” says the rider after the Omloop. “I don’t remember ever having to run in a race. Too bad I wasn’t bad at all, but it was over right away. Otherwise I would have been behind the winner with four of my group mates.

Mollema tapped and hammered meticulously over the sacred stones of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, since 1950, executioner in many classics such as the Tour of Flanders and in recent years in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Mollema rode the bike for the first time on Saturday. And he pinned Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on it the next day, also for the first time, as about three-quarters of the peloton Omloop.

About the author

Robert Geebbels is a sports reporter and writes about cycling and Formula 1. He previously worked for the Political Editorial Office and was Asia Correspondent.

Why is the 36-year-old rider debuting a nice list of honors including stage victories in the Tour and Vuelta and cycling’s monument, the Tour of Lombardy, after fourteen professional seasons in the traditional classic inaugural? ‘Yes why not?’ Well, because the Omloop and the “Kuurne” require extreme knowledge of the course and experience riding cobblestones that are sometimes horizontal, sometimes inclined. “I thought they were very nice races. I always watch them on TV. And they have been incorporated into my team programme, so I wanted to give it a try.

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He could also drive two races in France, not far from his hometown of Monaco. I’ve done that many times. Also beautiful, but I’m more excited about something new.


And repeatable? There was a lot more frantic activity than I’m used to, a madhouse in fact. It relates to the course: since you sometimes have to climb very narrow climbs, it is always necessary to be in front at that moment. So you have to fight all day for your position.

And it turns out that this position can be lost in the blink of an eye. “There was a little crash in front of me, which forced me to put a foot on the ground. Then you lose fifty places. It took me a lot of strength to get past all those riders and get back into the peloton. I’ve ridden a lot of racing, but this was new. I only experienced this once. Now, it was beautiful, it’s historic racing, but no, I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

Mollema will continue as a rider until he is forty. The fact that he’s not a multiple winner is partly because his career has long been dominated by winning multi-day races, such as the three Grand Tours. Classification riders simply don’t get enough room for daily success. “Stage races are getting more and more difficult for me,” admits Mollema, “the level is very high. But one-day races and time trials are still possible. To succeed in this challenging Mollema needs an ‘uphill course.’” So condition and content play a role rather than from the blast.”

This lasts a long time because he is an enthusiast who wants to enjoy cycling as much as possible. Since 2007, he has been one of the riders to finish each season with the most kilometers. Last year 11,938 units in 76 trading days, about its annual average. Having fun means trying new things.

For example, he decided to debut last year in the Dutch time trial championship. Before that, he also said: “I think it would be good to give it a try.” Unlike the cobbled-together Flemish classics, Mollema had ample experience with the test of time. Last year, he finished fourth in the last Giro d’Italia time trial. His NK debut was an unexpected success: he won and even defeated such eminent specialists as Tom Dumoulin and Jos van Emden. “I was hoping for a place on the podium.”

round down under

Time Trial is something very different from the hyper-nervous cobbled classic, but there is a similarity to Mollema. Turning the fun of cycling into things I’ve never done before. I’m now in an age where I’ve pretty much seen all of those big races. And then you think: which one is not yet? This was from its opening weekend. But also, for example, the Tour Down Under, a stage race in Australia, is always in January. I want to do it next year for the new experience.

After debuting the Flemish Classics, Mollema could not fare as well as his first NK Time Trial. He finished 73rd in Omloop, less than three minutes behind winner Dylan van Barley and 90th in Kuurne, eight minutes behind teammate Tiesj Benoot. This was disappointing. I was conditionally satisfied, but I seem to be missing out on the experience with these courses.

More success for Jumbo-Visma

The Jumbo-Visma cycling team had a solid weekend. In addition to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne also won: Belgian cyclist Tiesj Benoot pulled away from a leading group of five in the final hundreds of metres. Dutchman Taco van der Horn came fourth. In Spain, the leader, Jonas Vingaard, ensured success. He won the O Gran Camiño. The Danish Tour winner won a total of three stages.

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