In recent years we’ve seen the surfacing of many talented Dutch riders. Just think of Sam Oomen (who looks on the verge of a breakthrough), Antwan Tolhoek (who has also been riding strong) and, of course, Wilco Kelderman (who is already close to the top). A generation before we witnessed riders such as Gesink, Kruijswijk and Mollema leading the peloton and winning stages. This previous generation are now at their peak and performing incredibly well—Bauke Mollema in particular has been an absolute constant force in recent years.
Bauke Mollema and the way to the top
Mollema’s career started in 2006 with the amateurs. Then, in 2008, he got his first contract with the former Rabobank team who recognised Mollema as a rider with talent. A talent that almost appeared overnight. And as his career progresses, Mollema is clearly a rider who is slowly but surely getting better and better.
In his first couple years as a professional he did well within the peloton, but he did not stand out. His results were nothing to be particularly proud of, which wasn’t much of a problem due to the fact he was only 24 at the time. In 2011, however, everything was different. It was the year in which Bauke Mollema really managed to break through.
During several spring races, he finished top ten in the overall classification. In the Paris-Nice race he finished ninth, and just before the Tour he even finished fifth in the Tour of Switzerland. So, for the Tour, there were some expectations—but those were out the window pretty quick. Fortunately, he was strong enough to compete in the Vuelta later that year.
The breakthrough in the Vuelta
During the 2011 Vuelta a España, Mollema he rode uphill alongside the best and managed several finishes in the top five. He eventually came fourth in the general classification and, thanks to his consistent performance, he took the green jersey home as overall points leader. It was the beginning of a beautiful career.
The following year proved that Bauke Mollema could also compete in one-day races. In 2012 he finished fifth in Clásica San Sebastián, sixth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, seventh in the La Flèche Wallonne, seventh in the Tour of Lombardy and tenth in the Amstel Gold Race. The Clásica San Sebastián in particular has become a race he could call his own—he won it in 2016, came third in 2017, and just missed victory this year.
Later on, in 2013, we found out how good he actually could be in the Tour de France. For a long time he was a candidate for the podium in Paris yet, due to illness, he had to be satisfied with sixth place.
Misfortune has turned out to be a recurring theme for Mollema. He has proven to be constant force in recent years, always eyeing a top ten finish in the big tours, but more than once illness and crashes have ruined his chances for glory. That he has gone on to win stages in the Vuelta and the Tour is, of course, a top effort—and his victory in the Clásica de San Sebastián in 2016 is one to be remembered.
Mollema is taking part again for the upcoming Vuelta. Maybe he can finally make his podium potential a reality!