By Jean-François Quénet in Victor Harbor
En route to finishing fifth in stage 3 of the Tour Down Under, Samuel Dumoulin scored some more points for the KOM competition and became the leader, something he's no stranger to in Australia. "I already wore this jersey last year, and I was a little bit disappointed that I couldn't keep it till the end," he recalled of the 2006 event. "But we had to defend Simon Gerrans' lead on GC first."
Dumoulin makes it clear though: "I'm not a pure climber and the hills here aren't the passes of the Tour de France. I'll do my best to win it but, again, we might have another priority with Martin Elmiger, if our plan for Saturday's stage works as we'd like to."
The little Frenchman is adamant that a lot of Ag2R Prévoyance's success during the year is related to the good work they plant in Australia. In fact, the team that led Gerrans to the victory in 2006 was the same working well at the Tour de France around Christophe Moreau: Cyril Dessel, Sylvain Calzati, José Luis Arrieta and Dumoulin. "It's like a football team," Dumoulin noticed. "We get to know each other when we play together. We're a group of friends, we get on really well, that's why we haven't missed any breakaway since we started the Tour Down Under."
Dumoulin, who is a regular visitor to Australia and a true ambassador of Down Under in France, reckoned a good start is the key to a brilliant season. "We've had good weather conditions in France this winter. For that reason I've done a lot of kilometres but not many intensities and that was my aim when coming here. I lead the KOM because, I put some efforts to turn the gas on and it's good to realize that the engine is still able to speed up."
"As a professional rider, I'm in the middle of the field," he continued. "I've already won French cup races, so I have to set higher ambitions for myself and since I did well in Hamburg last year, I'm going to focus on other world cup races this year like Milan-Sanremo and Amstel Gold Race, but I can't say loud and clear that I'm going to win Milan-Sanremo or the Amstel Gold. Anyway, working for the team will come first."