An 11-lap circuit race in the downtown streets of Edmonton concluded the six-day Tour of Alberta Monday, and for the third straight day Trek Factory Racing controlled the race, pulling back an eight-man breakaway before the start of the final circuit to help Bauke Mollema clinch the overall victory.
Mollema finished safely in 12th place in the bunch sprint that concluded the 124-kilometer race to win the Tour of Alberta by six seconds over Adam Yates (Orica GreenEdge) and 22 seconds over Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin).
“It was a really nice win,” said Mollema. “It has been a hard week being in the lead all week, and then to finish it off today was really nice. It was still a hard day, we had to ride very, very fast because there was a strong breakaway with three guys from the Hincapie team.”
An eight-man breakaway escaped on lap three and the pinstriped team immediately went to work and held the escapees to one minute, lap after lap, until pressing the accelerator on the penultimate circuit to bring the escapees back by the start of the final 11-kilometer loop.
“It was not the ideal break for us today because there were two riders that were only 1’20 and 1’40 back on GC,” continued Mollema. “So we had to keep the gap below a minute, and in the last part we had help from other teams. We were pretty sure that it was going to be a sprint, but you never know and in the end it was a good day.”
The attacks flew in the final kilometers, but only one mattered to Mollema: when Tom-Jelte Slagter jumped hard on the final climb, Mollema was ready. He immediately was on his countryman’s wheel and neutralized the threat.
“I was ready. I know he’s a fast guy and he likes these kind of climbs,” explained Mollema of Slagter’s late move. “I was in his wheel in this last climb just watching for him and also for Adam Yates. I saw him, he was a little bit nervous, so I was already expecting him to attack and so I was there in the good moment. I think the sprinters’ teams were there to close the gap anyway, but you never know what happens so I had to be there to follow him.”
When the peloton rounded the final corner Mollema was second wheel, making certain the win would not be lost in the final meters with the 10-second time bonus on offer. But the sprinters ruled the fast dash to the line, allowing Mollema to safely slip backwards knowing the overall victory was sealed.
Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) sprinted to the stage win, relegating Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge) and Dion Smith (Hincapie Racing) to second and third places respectively.
Mollema: “I really have to thank everybody from the team for all their hard work, I think the last three days we have been pulling the entire stage more or less, so that was really hard for the boys and this makes it even nicer when you take the win home.
“When we started this week I was not sure about my condition because I had not raced in one month, but the first day in the team time trial I felt really good, really strong, and we did such a good result that I was really starting to believe that I could win this race.
“The team time trial was for sure the key this week, and why I won, and I am really, really happy with that. It was a great ride from the team, and to start like that in the leader’s jersey was really, really motivating for everybody. I think it was a bit of a surprise, but that’s the reason I was in the lead for the rest of the week.”
It was Bauke Mollema’s first professional general classification victory and his first overall win since 2007 when he won the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir as a U23.
“It was about time to take a GC victory,” Mollema added. “I have had a lot of second places, fourth, fifth places in weeklong races and also in Grand Tours, but this is my first GC win since 2007.
“It was nice to start the week with the TTT win, and then to finish it off today – I am really happy that I finally won a general classification.”
Source Trek Factory Racing