Mollema struggles in stage 4 of Tour of the Basque Country

Every day is tough in Vuelta al Pais Vasco and one of the riders who really felt it was Bauke Mollema. The Trek rider struggled on the successive steep uphills that arrived at the end of the 165 KM stage four. In the end he finished in a group 13 seconds behind stage winner Samuel Sanchez (BMC).

“I think this was the hardest stage so far,” said Mollema at the end of the race. “From the start to the finish it was full gas. It took 75 KM before the breakaway went, and at one point we had to chase to bring back a dangerous group that had no one of us in it. And with all the steep climbs, it was just a really hard race, and it was everybody for himself.

After reaching theĀ 25 percent gradient at the top of the last categorized climb, it was an unclassified bump that crested in the last Kilometer that caused the front group to split. Sanchez was the one who seized the opportunity with an attack just before the crest which was followed by a fast 800-meter downhill to the finish. Mollema arrived in 25th place and now sits 19th overall, some 38 seconds behind Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo).

“It was just a brutal stage today,” repeated Mollema. “Tomorrow is again a hard stage with steep climbs, but I think the climb to the finish is a bit longer so I think that will suit me better at the moment. The feeling is not bad, [my top form] is coming back, and in the finale today, I felt better than a few days ago. Losing some seconds in the final is not the best, but still a lot can happen in the next few days.”

Today is the traditional queen stage of the six-day Volta al Pais Vasco, and the race concludes Saturday with a hilly 16.5-kilometer time trial.