Usually sharp in the uphill finishes, Cofidis' Samuel Dumoulin is targeting victory in the Tour de France's first stage. “Every day we will work for one rider and Saturday it'll be all for Sam,” team manager Eric Boyer told Cyclingnews. “He will be supported by the whole team, including David Moncoutié and Rein Taaramäe who are most expected for the hilly stages. We even added Mickaël Buffaz to our Tour's roster last Monday because we think he'll be a key man for such a finish.”
This season, Dumoulin has recorded two stage wins at the Vuelta of Catalunya, and one each at the Etoile de Bessèges and the Tour du Haut Var. Cofidis' ambitions for Saturday's stage were boosted after the Critérium du Dauphiné, when the team did a strong lead-out on a similar finish to Lyon. Dumoulin finished second behind John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad).
Wednesday he trained in Le Mont des Alouettes, the conclusion of the Tour's first stage. “The finish is not too bad for my little legs”, he wrote on Twitter, joking about his 1.59m height, which obviously doesn't affect his abilities in sprints and echelons.
Dumoulin, 31 years old, has already succeeded once at the Tour, in 2008, wining the sprint of a breakaway. If he does the same on Saturday, he will also wear the first yellow jersey of the race. “That would be great but I avoid to think about that and I'll ride like if it's a one-day race,” he confided to Cyclingnews.
Dumoulin was worried though about managing his power on the Mont des Alouettes ascent. “That's pretty hard to calculate your effort properly because you climb it in perhaps four minutes in training and it might be less than 2:30 the D-Day. So I'll try to be clever.”
Cofidis knows there are some big experts in uphill sprints. Boyer cited Philippe Gilbert, Alessandro Petacchi, Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish. "We have to be humble but we don't fear anybody," he said. "We know outsiders sometimes have good luck!”
Asked about Cavendish's shape, Dumoulin answered very carefully. “He'll be dangerous this year again. Not necessary in the first stage but he will win at least two or three times. Remember in 2010: people said he was dead and he clinched five stages. He was unbeatable at the last Vuelta too, with Matt Goss' support. They are both together in the Tour again, so it will be a dangerous duo.”