A shock stage winner and a new race leader, but unsurprisingly the stage 4 time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine was overshadowed by the high-speed crash that left Chris Froome with a suspected broken femur and his Tour de France dreams over for this year at least. Even the post-race interviews from the remaining Tour de France rivals were dominated by talk of the incident that took place during the Team Ineos rider’s recon of the 26.1km course around Roanne.
Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) finished the stage in third place behind winner Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First), and the Dutchman had his own story to tell of a day in the saddle that offered signs of his improvement since abandoning the Giro d’Italia, but his comments regarding Froome and the British rider’s certainty in missing the Tour de France were the most pertinent on such a day.
"That’s devastating for him and for cycling in general," Dumoulin told Cyclingnews after Van Aert had nudged him off the hot seat with an amazingly fast ride.
"Froome’s the main character in the Tour de France that everyone looks to. Ineos still have a great team with Thomas and Bernal even without Froome, but normally he would be number one leader so it’s bad for him and it’s bad for cycling."
As for Dumoulin, the signs are encouraging, despite the nagging injury he still holds from his Giro d’Italia crash. He told Cyclingnews on the eve of the time trial that he would go all out on his favourite terrain, even with the shard of metal that is still lodged in his left knee.
"My ride was alright. Not great, if you look at the times. I definitely have some improvements to make in the next few weeks, but I knew that already," Dumoulin said.
"There’s always something inside me that hopes for more, so I’ll always be disappointed even if this was to be expected. If you look with reason, then this ride is OK for now, but like I said, the winner in me doesn’t like this. The knee was alright but not great. I still have some time, definitely. I wanted to be race ready, winning here, and I’m not. That’s frustrating. I know why and I know why I shouldn’t be expecting more."
With the overall in the Dauphine no longer an option after losing time on stage 2, Dumoulin will target the mountains in the final two days of racing. He told Cyclingnews that he wanted to test himself properly on at least one of the key stages before taking a rest and returning to altitude.