12 July 2017
This is your last Tour de France. It is actually your last race. At the Champs-Élysées you will ride your final kilometres as a professional cyclist. This is your fifteenth Tour de France. It is the race where it all started for you. Because of that, you thought that it would be a nice honour to also end it here.
I remember the fifth stage in the Tour de France of 2004. You went in the breakaway with five other riders. The group was able to stay away and gained a couple of minutes on the peloton. You did not win that day, but you did claim the yellow jersey. No one thought that you would hold on to that jersey for so many days. You survived the Pyrenees and the whole of France started to believe that there was a possibility that you could actually win that Tour de France. But in the Alps you could not follow the best climbers of the peloton and you had to give up on the ‘yellow dream’.
Afterwards, you became a national hero in France. The French people saw the next winner of the Tour de France in you. Although you never came close again in the next few years, the fans never gave up hope. In 2009 you won your first stage in the Tour de France, in 2011 you even wore the yellow jersey again for ten days and just missed out on the podium in the final classification. In 2012 you claimed two stage wins and went home with the polka dot jersey.
That is only the Tour de France, I did not even mention the other beautiful wins in your career. Two times national champion of France, victories in the Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice, winner of the Brabantse Pijl.
Although you were not always loved by the other riders in the peloton or some of the cycling fans, you made it clear during your career that you were on of the most important French riders of your generation. I hope you will enjoy the rest of this Tour de France. If you get the chance in the mountains, make sure you will place a typical ‘Voeckler’ attack, so we can all enjoy that one last time.
9 April 2017
How does it feel? How does it feel to win one of the monuments? It was not your favorite, I know. But it is Paris-Roubaix, so you should be grateful. It is one of the hardest races of the season. I don’t have to tell you that. The dust, the cobbles, the dirty French roads. It is the hell on earth and today you became one of the legends of the ‘Hell of the North’.
It was a nervous race. All eyes were on Tom Boonen and on you. After your second place in last week’s Tour of Flanders you became one of the favorites for the win today. You were patient. You waited for a chance to get away from the other favorites. With six other riders you entered the Carrefour de l’Arbre. Immediately you placed an attack and only Zdenek Stybar and Sebastian Langeveld were able to follow. The three of you stayed together until the Velodrome. Although Jasper Stuyven and Gianni Moscon returned in the last hundred metres, because you and the other two started to look at each other. None of them had a chance. Stybar took off for the final sprint, but you came after him with way more power in your legs. He knew that. The whole season, you are unbeatable in the sprints. Today was no difference.
They will never ask you again when you will win a big monument. The pressure is off. Although you will keep putting pressure on yourself, because the job is not done yet. Next year there is another Tour of Flanders to ride, another Paris-Roubaix. Now that you know how it feels to win a monument, I am sure you are eager enough to win more. And I am sure that those wins will come.
© Photo News
29 June 2016
Does it feel good to start in the Tour de France? I can imagine you missed it since you were left out of the selection last year. But let us not talk about that. Last year is finished and done. You have started with a clean sheet. A new team, a new chance. Will you be able to win four stages again? You did that in 2013 ánd 2014. Quite impressive, I must say. And you also know that the yellow jersey is in your reach again this year. The Tour de France does not start with a prologue or a time trial. The first stage is a flat stage to Utah Beach. And it is just the stage for you.
There is one obstacle. His name is André Greipel. You might be in a good form, but so is he. And it is Greipel that is wearing the national jersey of Germany and not you. You lost the sprint last Sunday in Germany. Still, André Greipel knows that the Tour is way different from a one-day race. You could take revenge for losing the nationals on the very first day of the Tour.
Wait, there is another obstacle. His name is Michael Matthews. Yeah, it is the curly one from Australia. He is fast, you know that. His train is absolutely one of the best trains and their goal is to win the first stage and take the yellow jersey.
But apart from those two, I would say the others do not stand one chance. I have seen you sprint in the Giro d’Italia and that was absolutely stunning. You know that another stage win in the Tour is two steps away. Step one is Matthews and step two is Greipel. I cannot wait for the sprints in this year’s Tour de France.
21 June 2016
This week you are training for your biggest goal of the year. It is nothing less than the Tour de France. Right now you are somewhere in the mountains. Alone. In a few weeks you will be in the mountains again. But then you will not be alone.
You belong to a generation that has to beat Froome. We all know that this is almost impossible. You cannot have one bad day in the mountains, your time trial has to be magnificent and you cannot lose any time in the first stressful week. Do you really want to put yourself through all this trouble?
What is your goal this year, Bauke? Top five? After place six in 2013, place ten in 2014 and place seven last year my guess is that you will aim for a place in the top five this year. Let go of that dream. Even if you do make the top five, not many people will remember it. What will they remember? A stage win? The mountain jersey? Other goals, still goals to look forward to. I mean, you would be proud of a heroic win in one of the mountain stages, right? I think stage eight is just the stage for you. Deep in the mountains, in the Pyrenees, leading you over the Tourmalet and the Col de Peyresoude. That is your stage. Mark it somewhere, in your agenda or your smart phone. In your head. Saturday the 9th of July.
It is just an offer. Think about it when you are training in the mountains. And know that you will be in the mountains again in a few weeks. Alone or not alone, that is up to you.
© Bauke Mollema (@BaukeMollema)
Posted in Dear...
Tagged Bauke Mollema, Chris Froome, Cycling, Mountains, Pyrenees, Stage Victory, Stage Win, Tour de France, Tourmalet, Training, Trek - Segafredo
31 March 2016
The Tour of Flanders is only a few days away. The three ‘big’ favorites for this year’s win are Fabian Cancellara, Greg van Avermaet and Peter Sagan. Still, you also have a chance of winning. You are in good shape. You showed that last week in Gent – Wevelgem. You are motivated and you are calm and relaxed. What a difference with last year. It was by far not your best year. You did not perform well in the Classics. Maybe it was all the pressure the press put on you, maybe you were not in shape. Nevertheless, after the Classics all the pleasure in cycling was gone. You even thought of quitting. That is not how I know the rider Vanmarcke. Quitting at the age of 27? Luckily, you have pulled yourself together. Losing does not mean that you can never win again. You realised that your best years are yet to come. You have learned how to cope with losing a race. That experience might change a lot. It already changed your choice of races. You did not ride Omloop het Nieuwsblad, for an instance, because you want to peak at the right moments. One of those right moments is upcoming Sunday. It will be the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders. How special would it be if a Belgium rider wins? If there is one Belgium rider who deserves the win, it is you.