Bauke Mollema’s attack with just over two kilometres to go proved to be the winning move as held off the rest of a leading select group to take a solo win at the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli on Sunday.
“It was super hard, but I was always in the front together with Toms Skujins and Michael Gogl in the final, and thanks to them I could attack in the last few kilometres,” said Mollema. “It was a really nice win, and I am super happy to win here especially since it’s close to Segafredo, our Italian sponsor.”
Trek-Segafredo’s pre-race plan featured Mads Pedersen as the leader for the 196-kilometre race, but this changed in the final few laps of a tough circuit.
“Mads was the protected leader before the race, but he was not feeling so good in the end, so he told us in the radio to go for it ourselves. Toms and Michael were both really strong, and we had three guys in the first 12 riders in the last kilometres,” explained Mollema.
Mollema’s attack on the penultimate time up the circuit’s featured climb created the first big selection, and the start of a tactical and aggressive finale.
“The plan for today was to see how Mads goes because we knew it could end in a sprint but also that it would be an active race in the finale,” echoed Skujins. “With two laps to go on the climb, Bauke and me with six others got a gap. We worked well together, and we had 30 seconds at one point, but before the climb, everyone wanted to save energy so [the bunch] came really close.”
As the eight leaders began the climb for the final time, the bunch was about to make contact.
“On the final time up the climb, Trentin attacked, and I had to close with Kruijswijk and Bauke on my wheel, and in the last 300 metres, I countered,” recounted Skujins. “I went into the downhill alone with Bauke and Kruijswijk chasing and little gaps everywhere. After the downhill Kruijswijk caught me, and we slowed a little it, and we were similar to what we were before – 8 or 10 guys – but the mix had changed. It was still Trentin, Kruijswijk,
“Bauke and me, but also Michael (Gogl) was there, and (Sonny) Colbrelli also bridged. We had a gap again, and in the final 5 kilometres everyone kept attacking.”
Trek-Segafredo did not want to take this group to the line with the faster legs of Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) more likely to take the win.
“We played the game a little bit and attacked because we did not want to wait for a sprint with guys like Trenton,” added Mollema. “So with two and a half kilometers to go I saw a good moment, and I just went full gas and got a good gap, and it’s difficult to catch me back once I have 100 meters.”
Mollema jumped and opened a gap. Colbrelli tried to close, but the Dutch climber powered away, leaving the rest to fight out the minor places.
“With 2.2kms or so Bauke slipped off the front, and everyone was really tired, no one wanted to chase,” explained Skujins. “Colbrelli tried to bridge, but he didn’t have the legs. We ended up getting caught by the remainder of the bunch. Through the last two turns me and Michael went to the first few wheels, and we could see in the distance Bauke beginning to celebrate, and that was really nice.”
In the last 200 metres Mollema looked back and knew he had it. He pointed to the sponsors on the front of the jersey and raised his arms in victory as he crossed the line.
“I have two more races this week with Milano-Torino and Lombardy next Saturday. It’s nice to finish the season with a win like this and who knows what is in it the rest of the week.”