Trek-Segafredo rider Bauke Mollema announced that he will be aiming for Pink in the Giro d’Italia this year, and supporting Alberto Contador as lead domestique during July’s Tour de France. Rival Chris Froome of Team Sky, whose dominance has seemed to irk Mollema, hinted in late October that he would be unlikely to race the Giro and will continue to focus on his run of consecutive Tour victories. Speaking to the media during the Tour last year, he said (emphasis mine):
Froome is the big favourite; He has already won the Tour de France twice. He is almost two minutes ahead of me. He has all the pressure. They have a great team also and, for them, it would be disappointing with a team like that and with their budget if they don’t win the Tour. I hope to continue with the legs that I’ve got, and if there are opportunities, then I will go for it. If I see any weaknesses with Froome, then I will attack.
Mollema has been the leader in the Tour and hasn’t raced the Giro since 2010, but the dissolution of Tinkoff-Saxo and the disappointing crashes for Contador in the 2016 Tour will presumably lead to his last run at yellow next July. Mollema would be in nearly the same position as Tejay Van Garderen, albeit probably in a more defined role, where he would take over as the leader if Contador crashed out or didn’t have the legs, but otherwise will try to cover Sky attacks and protect Contador.
BMC may be still trying to pretend that Van Garderen and former Sky rider Richie Porte are co-leaders, but Porte has shown to be the far better general classification rider and despite the crash the lost him over two minutes during the opening week, he was able to claw his way back into the picture and give Froome a run for his money. BMC’s Racing Director Max Sciandri remains steadfast in his claims that Van Garderen is the leader.
He is not paid as a domestique in this team. He is paid as a leader. It is a matter of re-planning and trying to get Tejay back as a leader. At this team he won’t become a domestique. In the future, down the road, maybe. But in this team, at least for next year, he will be a leader.
It’s hard to imagine Tejay really competing for the Yellow Jersey, so it may be time for him to focus on the other grand tours, and leave the Tour to the three-man race that it appears to be (eight months in advance), between Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, and Richie Porte.