Chris Froome became the winner of the 2011 Vuelta a España this morning after the anti-doping declassification of Juan José Cobo, whose ride had surprised a few people at the time.
Spaniard Cobo, now 38, never took another victory after the 2011 Vuelta and only had one other Grand Tour ride of note, 10th in the 2009 Vuelta, which was also stripped.
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“I was always a bit surprised with that performance,” Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) told Cycling Weekly.
With the ruling, Mollema moved from fourth to third overall, Bradley Wiggins from third to second.
“In that Vuelta, I don’t think I was the only one [who was surprised with Cobo’s ride]. But OK, I finished fourth and you go on, but then suddenly this year you hear they go after him and he’s suspended,” Mollema added.
“I think everyone had that feeling at the Vuelta. Also the year after that he didn’t do anything any more.
“Normally that a guy that wins a Grand Tour can then also finish in a top-10 of another Grand Tour or win other big races, but that was the only thing he did in those years. It was a bit strange.
“Now it comes out, it was not really the way it should have been.”
Mollema consistently rode well through his career, but the fourth place – now third – still remains his best Grand Tour result. In the 2019 Tour de France, which rolled out of Toulouse this morning for stage 12, he is helping Richie Porte for the overall classification.
“I heard it this morning, I read it on the internet. I didn’t get an official notification. I can say, I’m really happy now,” Mollema said.
“I don’t why it takes eight years. It’s unbelievable that it takes that long.
“I don’t know, it would’ve been nice saying I stood on a podium at a Grand Tour. Now it’s even hard to say it even if I am there officially now. It feels strange, it should’ve been much faster than eight years later.”