For his attacking efforts on the road to La Rosière on stage 11 of the Tour de France, Tom Dumoulin takes the Zwift Rider of the Day. The Team Sunweb leader attacked on the fast descent off the Cormet de Roselend before sprinting for bonus seconds ahead of GC rival Chris Froome.
It was a gutsy move from the Dutchman on the second Alpine stage of the Tour, just a day before the vital summit finish of Alpe d'Huez. Slipping off the front of the peloton with teammate Søren Kragh Andersen 21km from the line, the pair immediately got a gap that showed it was a serious attempt rather than an exercise in keeping safe away from the peloton.
After reaching speeds of up to 93.5km/h on the way down, the duo worked their way to a 40-second gap in the valley before the final climb, sweeping up Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the process. The Spaniard had himself attacked 54km from the finish, potentially looking to set up a Movistar move that never came, or just aiming to put pressure on Team Sky.
On the early slopes of La Rosière, Kragh Andersen dropped away having completed his work, while Valverde lasted until 9km to go. Then it was a solo ride into the headwind for Dumoulin, who was at one point pulling out time on Sky-led favourites group.
He would later be joined and dropped by Sky's Geraint Thomas, in between being forced to pull the Welshman with Chris Froome still further down the mountain. Come the stage finish, the result of Dumoulin's hard work was a 20-second time loss to Thomas, two-second gain on Froome thanks to the bonus seconds, and even more time on every other GC man.
It was a valiant effort for what amounted to very little reward, and it looks like the kind of tactical riding that Dumoulin will have to rely on in order to compete with Team Sky in the mountains. You have to wonder if he'd have finished alongside Froome had he been with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) et al when the Brit attacked.
Six decisive stages stand between the Tour de France GC contenders and the 31km time trial between Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle and Esplette: the summit/uphill finishes at Alpe d'Huez, Menda and Saint-Lary-Soulan, and the descent finishes at Carcassone, Bagnères-de-Luchon and Laruns. It looks like Dumoulin will have to repeat today's trick a few more times before he reaches his favoured ground.
Daniel Ostanek: Dumoulin undertook a big effort today, coming away with a handful of seconds for a lot of work. In the process, he looked like the strongest GC rider outside of Team Sky – impressive considering he and Froome both have the Giro in their legs.
Right now, after the first big GC showdown of the Tour, the race looks like being a battle between that trio. But it is, of course, too early to tell. There's a lot of racing left this July, but on this evidence Tom Dumoulin looks a favourite for a podium spot.
On Tuesday's stage 10, you voted for Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The Frenchman sealed his country's first stage victory at this year's Tour, riding solo for the final 30km of the day after getting into the early break. It was perhaps the most impressive win of this year's Tour so far, with Alaphilippe riding the Col de la Colombière alone before descending into Le Grand-Bornard to take the plaudits and polka-dot jersey.
You can vote for stage 11's Zwift rider of the Day below. We will announce the reader's poll winner after Thursday's stage 12.
The second stage of the #TDF2018 Alpine triple-header is over. Who's your Zwift Rider of the Day? Dumoulin attacking 20km out, Thomas with the win and the jersey, Barguil battling until the final climb or Nieve almost hanging on from the break...— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) July 18, 2018