Tom Dumoulin said that he knew his chances of taking a World Championship medal in the road race were over when Alejandro Valverde shut down his attack inside the final kilometre before it had even begun. In the end, the Dutchman missed the podium and had to settle for fourth place.
Dumoulin said that he was running on empty after furiously chasing down the leading group of Valverde, Romain Bardet and Michael Woods through the streets of Innsbruck. He made contact with the group with just 1.6 kilometres to go until the line and tried to attack from the back of the group as they passed under the flamme rouge, but was not able to get away.
"I had nothing left for the podium anymore when I came back to the three of them. It was disappointing but it's also pretty honest I guess. On the climb, I was already unable to follow them. I was able to come back but I had nothing left when I came there," Dumoulin said. "I first thought to attack immediately but I didn't have the legs to do it. I recovered a bit and tried to go with a kilometre to go but Valverde was so sharp that he immediately saw it and I knew then that it was pretty much over because I had absolutely nothing left, I couldn't even hold the wheel in the sprint."
The Dutch team had five riders in the main group as they approached the foot of the Höll Climb. However, Dumoulin was the only one that could keep within touching distance of the leaders as they pulled a gap out over the steepest parts of the climb. It was clear that Dumoulin, who had taken a silver medal in the time trial on Wednesday, was suffering as he weaved across the road in drastic and sharp movements. Dumoulin knew that he would not be able to keep the pace with the others and relied on making up for lost time on the descent.
"I would have cramped up if I did so I decided to go at my own pace and the pace that I wouldn't have cramps. If you have cramps at 28 per cent then you're going to be in a lot of difficulty," he said. "On the climb, I kept seeing them so I knew that the gap wasn't too big. I knew that I had a chance to come back if I did a crazy downhill. I did but I knew it would also cost me a lot of energy and it did."
The World Championships bring to a close a busy season for Dumoulin, and though he took just two victories in the year, it was a hugely consistent one. Since May, he won the Giro d'Italia prologue and went on to finish second overall before backing that up with second at the Tour de France. He also helped his team to silver in the World Championships team time trial and went on to take silver in the individual event. His primary success in recent seasons have come against the clock and in the general classification, and though there was some disappointment, his Worlds performance gives him hope that he can also find success in one-day races.
"I've been riding well pretty much all season, only my spring wasn't very good," he said. "It was a very nice result for me and it's my best one-day race result so far. It's nice to see that I can also do that. In the spring, it hasn't worked out so far and hopefully, it will work out one day."