While several of his potential rivals have gone to Belgium for the pavé race conditions at Dwars door Vlaanderen, Tom Dumoulin chose to go to Northern France on Wednesday to recon the Tour de France's cobbles. Dumoulin is not yet a confirmed starter for the Tour de France this July, but the Team Sunweb rider has been out surveying the stage 9 cobbles nonetheless.
Team Sunweb has told Cyclingnews that a decision has still not been made on whether he will ride the Tour de France, but the recon was done in order to be as well prepared as possible. Dumoulin was the only rider from the Sunweb team to undertake the recon and headed to France with Team Sunweb's R&D staff member Tom Davids. He rode almost all of the route, aside from the opening 10 kilometres, on a team issue Giant Defy disc. According to the team, he tested out a number of different tyres 'just in case' and enjoyed his time on the pavé.
The 2017 Giro d'Italia champion also took the time to pose for photos with some of the junior members of the Roubaix Lille Metropole squad. A post on the team's Facebook page says that Dumoulin also paid a visit to the famous Roubaix showers.
Dumoulin has kept his options open so far regarding riding the Tour de France. The Dutchman is currently down to defend his Giro d'Italia title this May. He and his team have said that he will wait until after the Giro d'Italia has finished to make the call.
The ninth stage of the Tour de France is a 154-kilometre ride from Arras to Roubaix and will feature 21.7km of the stones across 15 sectors. It is the final stage ahead of the first rest day and it is expected to be a defining factor in the opening week of racing. Dumoulin raced the cobbled stage at the 2014 Tour de France, finishing more than two minutes down on the stage winner Lars Boom. He raced the following year's Tour, but crashed out the day before the cobbles.
Dumoulin, who fell ill at the start of March and crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico, has not raced since Milan-San Remo and is not scheduled to race until Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 22. The team has told Cyclingnews that Dumoulin has fully recovered from his Tirreno crash and is due to head to altitude next week as he continues his preparations for the Giro d'Italia.