Oct 18, 2015 – Bauke Mollema capitalized on strong teamwork by Trek Factory Racing to end his 2015 season with a victory in the Japan Cup road race Sunday, outkicking Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Yukiya Arashiro (Japan National Team).
Trek Factory Racing/©Yuzuru SUNADA/Japan Cup Utsunomiya
“I was just following attacks until the last time up the climb, and then I saved all my energy for the finish,” Mollema explained. “I knew it would most likely come to a sprint with a small group and it was better to save all my energy for this, but I still was not sure to win because the others were faster than me. But in the end I was strong enough to do it.”
The 144.2-kilometer race in Utsunomiya, based on the 1990 World Championships route, included 14 laps of a 10.3-kilometer tough circuit with the Kogashi Forest climb taking its toll and whittling the peloton to nine riders by the final lap.
The final time up the Kogashi climb pared the select group to three with Mollema, Ulissi and Sky’s Sebastian Henao cresting the climb with a few seconds lead. Arashiro bridged on the descent, and a few other stragglers caught the leaders, but the final uphill to the finish left the four strongest to fight out the sprint.
“The race was hard, but the team did such a great job; the guys pulled hard all race to bring back the breakaway,” Mollema added. “I am happy that I could pay them back with a win, and also for all the fans. This is my first time in Japan, and I have to say that the fans are just unbelievable, just crazy for cycling, it was really nice to see. I have enjoyed being here a lot, and now with this win, and also yesterday with Fumy’s (Beppu) win, it has been just a really great experience.”