Preparation and adaptation pays off for Tour de France stage 14 winner Bauke Mollema: 'It's pretty hard to close me down'

The Dutchman won his second Tour de France stage, four years after his first

Bauke Mollema
(Image credit: Getty)

The Tour de France road book is not just the logistics and information bible, it's where dreams and plans are formed.

Resting in their hotel rooms and riding the long transfers on the team buses, riders flick through the heavy book one page at a time, blindly turning until they reach a page that ignites an idea. This is the day I'll attack, they mentally vow. 

>>> Bauke Mollema finishes on top of hectic Tour de France 2021 stage 14 with strong solo victory

For Bauke Mollema, stage 14 of this year's Tour de France was the one he circled all the way back at the start.

"When I looked at the road book at the beginning of the race, I knew this stage was a big opportunity for the breakaway, and for a rider like me," he said in Quillan.

"It was up and down the whole day and perhaps it was better for me that the finish was not uphill but downhill.

"A few days ago I checked the course on Google Maps, the last 50 or 60km, so I knew what to expect. I knew it was a tricky downhill so I knew I would wait for the right moment to attack."

Following a frantic opening two hours, Mollema made it into a select group of breakaway riders. They were together until around 40km to go when Mollema sensed his moment. He attacked.

"I felt good today and I had confidence that I could do a long solo until the finish," the 34-year-old added.

"At one point I looked back and saw no one sitting in my wheel and then I just went.

"I got a gap straight away and I knew I could increase the gap."

Mollema is one of the peloton's strongest attackers. When he goes, he's hard to catch again.

"I know most of my wins have been solo rides," he continued. "You have to know the right moment to attack, it's not enough just looking.

"A lot of the guys were not expecting an attack where I did one. Once I had three or four seconds, it's pretty hard to close me down I think.

"I think also that the group was perfect for me. We worked well in the beginning but later some guys started to save some energy and they were not pulling because [Guillaume] Martin was in there. That's also why I attacked quite early."

It is four years since Mollema's first and previously only victory in the French Grand Tour, and thought he admits that his maiden success is "even more special [because] it was my first", this win on the edge of the Pyrenees' biggest mountains "is super-nice, especially after a long solo."

He added: "I am not a rider that is winning five or 10 races a year, so every win is special for me, especially in the Tour."

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.