Bernal had been the main aggressor in the UCI 1.Pro race on the Ligurian coast, and his attack on the penultimate time up Colla Micheri formed an elite group at the head of affairs.
Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën Team) was the only one who could match Bernal’s initial surge on the climb, but Mollema bridged over from the disintegrated peloton along with Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Vansevenant, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Biniam Girmay (Delko) and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ).
Mollema picked his spot with 15 kilometres to go, surging clear with the chasing group making no immediate response to chase down the 2019 Giro Il Lombardia winner.
The initial hesitation in the chase allowed Mollema to build a lead of 25 seconds by the foot of Colla Micheri.
Bernal continued his aggressive sequence of attacks on the climb but he was unable to drop his companions, who had returned to the Colombian by the summit. They had cut Mollema’s advantage to 17 seconds, but the Dutchman’s lead extended thereafter, with Ciccone policing the chasers all the way to the finish, where Mollema finished 42 seconds ahead.
“In the last 20 kilometers, the race was really hard,” said Mollema, “and I saw the good moment to attack, and luckily I could hold it to the finish line. This was a race, a parcours, that suited me well, and we had a strong team here, so the goal this morning was to win the race. When I did the recon of some of the course yesterday, I had a feeling this was a race that suited me well with short climbs."
Mollema already has 13 race days under his belt, more than most in this early part of the season as he builds towards his initial 2021 goals.
“I have felt good the last few weeks, and I wanted to start the season in a good way, and it’s nice to have two wins now," said Mollema. "We (Trek-Segafredo) have already five wins at the beginning of March – in Belgium, Italy, and France – I think the team is riding really strong, and hopefully we can continue like this in the other Italian races coming up this weekend.”
“There were a lot of strong riders today at the start and that makes it even nicer to win. I really wanted to be in good form and get results in these races, and also Saturday in Strade Bianche and Sunday in GP Industria, ” said Mollema.