Resilient Team Belkin in ninth stage Vuelta
With the finish line drawn on a steep wall in the village of Valdepeñas de Jaén, it was all about damage control for the Belkin Pro Cycling Team during ninth stage of the Vuelta de España today. Laurens ten Dam and Bauke Mollema could not keep up with Spanish mountain goat Dani Moreno (Katusha) on the final climb and lost 30 and 43 seconds, but maintained their positions in the general classification.
“Everyone wanted to take it easy; it was the ninth day in a row and tomorrow, we’ll face another very difficult stage so until the last 30 kilometres the bunch took it relatively easy. When the final began, it was important to be at front with our leaders as there were some narrow roads. After yesterday, we wanted to show resilience. We wanted to give a boost to our leaders, dropping them off properly for the climb. We did well, we shouldn’t let our heads hang.”
Laurens ten Dam
“I don’t feel super, compared to my Tour de France feeling. I was in top shape back then and it’s hard to get back to that. I have to do it with the legs I have. An explosive finish like today’s isn’t really in my favour, but I gave everything I had. After the finish, I was so tired I couldn’t do one more pedal stroke. I just have to keep on fighting and wait for my chances. Saving energy is also important because by wasting energy no one has ever placed in the top ten in a Grand Tour.”
“The beginning of the stage was easy, but the final was really hard. It was a bit like yesterday. I just wasn’t good enough.”
“The last 30 kilometres where constantly uphill and I had a hard time dealing with it. I completed the climb in the gruppetto, which held a nice pace. I feel quite well after this first week, but I expect it’s going to get harder. Tomorrow will already be a tough stage.”
“We agreed that a few kilometres before the second category climb we would move up as a team in order to drop off our leaders. That worked out well. At the top, Bauke and Laurens were with the first riders and after the downhill they were able to start the ‘wall’ at the front of the first group. Bauke finished fourth here a few years ago and had hoped for more, but he just wasn’t good enough. Laurens was where he needed to be.”