Second place overall Bauke Mollema says he won’t be afraid to attack Chris Froome if he sees any weakness in the Tour de France's third week
The British team have been dominant in this year’s race, riding with a team of super-domestiques and controlling the front of the peloton on every mountain stage so far.
Mollema, who sits in second overall at 1-47 behind race leader Chris Froome, rides with a much more modest team with Trek’s budget around three times smaller than that of Sky’s.
Still, the Dutchman is the best placed rider to challenge Froome heading into four crucial days in the climax of this of this Tour, including a mountain time trial on Thursday’s stage 18.
But Mollema says it’ll be a tough ask to overthrow Froome from the maillot jaune, and that he still has a lot to prove with his best finish in the Tour as sixth place overall in 2013.
“Of course, I have something to prove, because we’re not there yet,” Mollema said on the Tour’s second rest day.
“I said I’m happy where I am right now but in the end I will only be happy with a good result in Paris.
“For me, Froome is of course the big favourite, he has already won the Tour de France twice, he’s almost two minutes ahead of me. He has all the pressure.
“They have a great team here, and I think for them it would be disappointing with a team like that and the budget they have if they didn’t win the Tour. So they have the pressure.”
The 29-year-old looked particularly strong on the stage 12 finish to Mont Ventoux, where he bridged from the second group on the road to Richie Porte (BMC) and Froome before a collision with a motorbike took them all down.
He said it was “quite easy actually” to bridge the gap to the pair up front, and denied that he would be purely riding defensively to preserve his podium position, and would try to attack Froome if possible.
“I think it’s both [defensive and attacking mode],” Mollema added. “There’s riders behind me who are strong and of course I cannot let them just go, but if in Froome I see any opportunities I will attack for sure.
“I think there’s still a lot of opponents for the podium. [Nairo] Quintana is still there and he’s always strong in the last week, so I expect he will have a great last week and for sure he will attack.”
Watch: Tour de France final week preview
Froome has historically been weak in the final week of the Tour. In the 2013 edition he lost time on Quintana in the final summit finish to Mont Semnoz, and did likewise on Alpe d’Huez in 2015.
Mollema, who was in second position at this point in the 2013 race before sliding down the GC, says it will be difficult to overcome Sky’s super squad, but that he knew what to expect from them coming into this race.
“They look really strong. Froome attacked in the decent, he attacked in the wind last week, so he’s riding aggressive and trying to take time everywhere.”
“In the last years he’s always had a bad day in the Alps or in the Pyrenees, so that could happen this year.
“It’s not frustrating [to see Sky on the front all the time],” he added.
“You know they will be there, they have a great team, they have guys who are pulling that could be leaders of other teams. You knew before the Tour, as in other races it’s like that.
“They have the team for that, they have the biggest budget of all the teams in cycling, I think that’s the way it is and you can’t really change that.”